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Israel to bar visit by US congresswomen Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib: ministry

JERUSALEM: Israel said Thursday it will bar a planned visit by two US congresswomen who have supported a boycott of the country over its treatment of Palestinians, a decision in line with President Donald Trump’s urgings.

Israel’s interior ministry announced the decision that it said was in accordance with a law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country.

Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, and Ilhan Omar were expected to arrive in Israel at the weekend for a visit that would take them to the Palestinian territories. Along with two other progressive congressional allies, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, they are known as “the squad” and have consistently been in Trump’s crosshairs.

Trump, earlier today, urged Israel to boycott the congresswomen, saying allowing them “would show great weakness”.

Prior to Trump’s tweet, an Israeli government official, on condition of anonymity, had said earlier in the day that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held consultations on the visit on Wednesday to weigh on a final decision.

“There is a possibility that Israel will not allow the visit in its current proposed format,” the official had said. “Professional teams and legal counsel in various government ministries are continuing to examine the decision.

In 2017, Israel passed a law banning entry to foreigners who support boycotting the country.

The law was passed in response to the Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement to boycott Israel as a means to pressure the country over its treatment of the Palestinians.

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