On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced he would prohibit Reps. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota’s Fifth Congressional District, and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), the first two Muslim women in congress, from entering the country.
Barely an hour after the President Donald Trump’s press secretary said it would be “inaccurate” to say Trump influenced Israel barring the congresswomen, the president made a statement on Twitter: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” he said in part. “They hate Israel & all Jewish people.”
Omar’s Democratic colleagues — and Omar herself — strongly condemned Netanyahu’s decision and Trump.
Rep. Dean Phillips, who represents Minnesota’s Third District and is Jewish, said in a statement that Netanyahu’s decision was entirely inappropriate.
“I am appalled by Israel’s decision to bar entry to sitting members of the United States Congress. This action sets a damaging precedent for a free and democratic nation and our most important ally in the region. It will harm Israel’s standing among Americans and the entire free world, and sacrifices an opportunity to build bridges of understanding. I urge Israel’s leaders to reverse this dangerous decision immediately.”
Rep. Angie Craig, of the Second District, echoed Phillips’ statement:
“The decision to ban members of Congress from visiting Israel goes against our shared values of freedom and democracy and sets a dangerous precedent going forward,” said Craig. “Every member of Congress should have the opportunity to visit Israel — this decision must be reversed.”
Rep. Betty McCollum, who represents Minnesota’s Fourth District and has been one of Israel’s most consistent critics in Congress, said that Trump did not want Tlaib and Omar to “witness first-hand the brutality & dehumanization Israel’s occupation inflicts on the Palestinian people. This bigoted president is working to extend his Muslim travel ban to Members of Congress.”
Seventh District Rep. Colin Peterson made no public statements and could not be reached for comment. At the time of publication, none of the three Republicans in the Minnesota congressional delegation could be reached for comment. One of the Republicans, Rep. Pete Stauber of the Eighth District, recently visited Israel.
Omar herself responded in a statement several hours after the Israeli Prime Minister made his announcement.
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government,” she said in a statement following the decision. “Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress.”