United States Representatives Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have been denied entry to Israel because of past comments made about the territory, according to a report from ABC News. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement defending his decision but did not that there could be an exception.
“As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any critic and criticism, with one exception: Israel’s law prohibits the entry of people who call and operate to boycott Israel, as is the case with other democracies that prevent the entry of people whose perception harms the country,” he said in the statement.
“[Congresswomen] Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against Israel in the US Congress. The two-member congressional visitation plan shows that their intent is to hurt Israel and increase its unrest against it.”
Omar and Tlaib are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.
Netanyahu did say, however, that Tlaib could be granted entry to visit her Palestinian grandmother in the West Bank if she makes a commitment not to promote boycotts against Israel.
The announcement from Netanyahu comes shortly after President Donald Trump said it would be a “disgrace” for Israel to allow the Minnesota and Michigan Representatives entry into the territory.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit,” Trump wrote on Twitter. “They hate Israel and all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”
Omar and Tlaib have faced controversy in the past for perceived anti-Semitic comments and are among the most vocal critics of Israel.
The two Congresswomen had planned to visit Israel in a trip organized by the nonprofit organization Miftah. The duo was supposed to go to Bethlehem, Hebron, Ramallah, and Jerusalem to visit different social groups and humanitarian workers.
Omar and Tlaib have yet to publicly comment on Netanyahu’s decision.