US lawmakers criticise Israel's decision to bar Congresswomen's entry
Washington, Aug 16 (IANS) US lawmakers blasted an Israeli move to block the visit of two American Democratic Congresswomen following President Donald Trump's tweet.
Israel's Interior Ministry reportedly announced on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had decided to deny entry to US Democratic members of Congress Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, citing their "boycott activities against Israel", Xinhua reported.
Tlaib and Omar have been vocal in their support of the Palestinians and the boycott-Israel movement.
Israel's decision came hours after Trump's tweet on Thursday morning.
"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," said Trump on Twitter.
"They are a disgrace!" he added. Tlaib and Omar have long been harshly criticised by Trump.
Israel's decision received strong criticism from US lawmakers from both parties. US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, a democrat, called the move a "sign of weakness" and "beneath the dignity" of Israel.
Pelosi also blasted Trump's tweet advocating for the entry denial. "The President's statements about the Congresswomen are a sign of ignorance and disrespect, and beneath the dignity of the Office of the President," she said in a statement.
Omar herself later said in a statement that the decision is "both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation."
House Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Nita Lowey, a democrat and Jewish, said in a statement that the Israeli government "is missing an opportunity for engagement in dialogue with those they disagree with, instead empowering those who seek to create a wedge between our two countries."
Republican Senator Marco Rubio called Israel's decision to bar the two Congresswomen from entering the nation "a mistake."
"I disagree 100% with Reps. Tlaib & Omar on #Israel ... But denying them entry into #Israel is a mistake," he tweeted.