Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reiterated the reason for barring Congresswomen Omar and Tlaib – that their itinerary indicated their intention to harm Israel politically – despite a claim by Omar on Sunday that they planned to meet both Israeli and Palestinians in a learning expedition.
“Several days ago, we received [Omar and Tlaib’s] trip itinerary,” PM Netanyahu said in a statement Thursday, “which clarified that they planned a visit whose sole purpose was to support boycotts and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For example, they called their destination ‘Palestine’ and not ‘Israel,’ and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress before them, they did not seek any meeting with any Israeli official, whether government or opposition.”
Rep. Omar said Friday they planned to meet with Jewish and Arab members of the Israeli Knesset plus other Israeli officials, according to The Associated Press.
She said they were going to get briefings on the impact of Israeli settlements on Bedouins in eastern Yerushalayim, a U.N. briefing on the effects of U.S. humanitarian aid cuts, hold a video conference with Gaza youth and tour the city of Chevron with Israeli military veterans.
Netanyahu, speaking with reporters just before leaving for Kiev, defended Ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, who was accused by Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz that the announcing that the congresswomen would be allowed in was made without first consulting with the PM.
“When Ambassador Dermer spoke, he was carrying out exactly that policy [of allowing all American congresspersons into Israel]. There is only one exception: the exception is the BDS Law, that requires us to check the entrance of supporters of BDS. At the time when Ambassador Dermer spoke, there was no specific request for these visits and also no specific itinerary and schedule,” the prime minister said.
“We respect all parties in the United States, but we also respect ourselves. Everyone who comes to boycott us and comes to undermine the legitimacy of State of Israel, we don’t allow them to enter,” he said.
Netanyahu made no direct mention of the Katz comment.