Israel is blocking two US Democratic lawmakers, who are prominent critics of the Israeli government, from visiting. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib were due to visit the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem next week. Both have supported the boycott movement against Israel, but Israeli law allows supporters of the campaign to be banned from visiting.
Omar described Israel’s move as “an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.” Trump earlier had taken to Twitter to urge that the two lawmakers be blocked from visiting, adding that “they hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.”
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & 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!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his support for the decision to bar Tlaib and Omar, saying their visit was intended to “harm Israel” because of its itinerary, which included stops in Israel-annexed East Jerusalem and several cities in the West Bank. For sure it would have been a media circus – and a political nightmare for Israel. The other part of this is, that the security surrounding the two Congresswomen would have also made it difficult – if anything should have happened, the state of Israel would have paid a heavy international political price – not to even speak of the security cost to a country for visiting politicians. It becomes cost-prohibitive.
News Forecasters believes these kinds of political stunt visits will become more challenged, even nonexistent in the future. Of course, this is not the first time controversial trips have been done. Sen. John McCain made a secret trip to Syria, presumably to sport his war stance. With today’s 24hr media spin and traveling on the taxpayer’s dime, it is a cost-effective way to improve one’s political visibility. But unless a politician’s visit does not directly benefit a country, they will be unwelcomed. This high profile case opens this door to more visit refusals, for a variety of reasons.