A report on Channel 12 Thursday said that Israel was considering banning the entry of Democratic representatives Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), who are set to land in Israel Friday, out of concern that their visit could cause anti-Israel provocations among Palestinian Authority Arabs. The Channel 12 report followed one in the Washington Post that Israeli officials had already alerted Democratic leaders about the possibility of that happening.
In a statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said that “on Wednesday there were numerous discussions between the prime minister, interior minister, foreign minister, Defense Ministry officials, head of Army Intelligence and the State Attorney on a final decision on the matter. There is a possibility that Israel may not allow members of the delegation to enter the country in its current form. We are continuing to evaluate the situation. The authority to allow the entry of the group belongs to the interior minister.”
Channel 12 said that Israeli security officials have in recent days held a series of high-level meetings discussing the possible results of a visit by the two outspoken congresspeople, known for their pro-Palestinian positions. On Wednesday night, media reports said that Israel would not prevent the delegation or any of its members from visiting, “out of respect for Congress,” but new information has shifted that point of view – with the majority of security officials now in favor of banning the two, despite the friction the decision will cause between Israel and the Democratic leadership.
The two are part of a group of dozens Democratic representatives who are coming to Israel for an annual information and education trip. But concerns are growing among Israeli officials that Tlaib and Omar are not interested in education, but provocation. Among the concerns is that the two plan to visit Har HaBayis. Reports Wednesday night said that Israel had authorized that visit, but again security officials questioned that decision, throwing the entire visit of the two into question.
By law, Israel is authorized to ban the entry of individuals who support BDS, and while the two have not stated categorically that they support boycotting Israel, their ties to groups that advocate boycotts are considered sufficient to put them into that category. According to Channel 12, Israeli officials shared their concern with Democratic leaders – who told them that banning the two would cross a “red line” in Israel’s relationship with the party.