Tensions between Israel and U.S. over congresswomen travel ban

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For decades, lawmakers have been largely united over America’s support for Israel.

But, new tensions have arisen – after Israel banned two Democratic congresswomen from visiting.

U.S. representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have supported a movement known as “BDS”, a Palestine-led campaign which calls for the boycott and sanctioning of Israel.

The Israeli government eventually said it would let Tlaib visit her family in the West Bank — but Tlaib denied the offer over what she called “oppressive conditions.”

President Donald Trump’s political fight against the Democrats has hit Israel.

“They are very anti-Jewish and they’re very anti-Israel,” said President Donald Trump.

Congresswoman Rashida Talib, a frequent target of President Trump refused to visit the country under Israeli restrictions. The Democrat Muslim of Palestinian origin was granted access for humanitarian reasons to visit her family in the West Bank including her 90-year-old grandmother.

Then, Talib did an about face visiting her grandmother under what she says are oppressive conditions meant to humiliate her.

Israel’s interior minister who made the final decision on allowing entry attacked Talib on Twitter: “I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request aimed at bashing the state of Israel. Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother.”

One day earlier Israel had banned congresswoman Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar from visiting because of their support for a boycott of Israel known as BDS. That, despite a promise last month that the two would be allowed to enter because of Israel’s respect for the U.S. Congress. A tweet by President Donald Trump in which he said Israel would show great weakness by letting them in gave Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu little room to maneuver.

“There’s one thing we’re not willing to do under the law. We are not willing to accept into Israel people who call for a boycott of Israel and actually work to delegitimize the Jewish state,” said Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Democrats and some Republicans blasted the decision including pro-Israel Democrats Steny Boyer who called it outrageous. In Israel, opposition lawmaker Yair Lapid said on Twitter: “These are two radical members of Congress. But the decision to bar their entry goes against our national interest as Netanyahu knows well. This is a serious mistake which strengthens the BDS movement and further harms our relations with the Democratic party.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has never publicly disagreed with President Donald Trump and he wasn’t about to start now, especially as he faces a very difficult re-election campaign over the course of the next month and a big part of his campaign strategy is Donald Trump. Oren Liebermann

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