Zionist entity said Thursday it will bar a planned visit by two US Muslim congresswomen who have supported a boycott of the country over its treatment of the Palestinians, a decision strongly encouraged by President Donald Trump.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the move against Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib “necessary”, charging that their “sole purpose is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it”.
US politicians called on Israel to reconsider, while senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi labelled it “an outrageous act of hostility against the American people and their representatives”.
Omar said it was a “chilling” decision and an “insult to democratic values.”
Omar and Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, were expected to arrive in the occupied territories at the weekend for a visit that would have taken them to the Palestinian territories.
Tel Aviv announced its decision shortly after Trump called on the country to bar the Democratic congresswomen.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
He continued with typical bombast: “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds… They are a disgrace!”
The US president told reporters later in the day the lawmakers had “said some of the worst things I’ve ever heard said about Israel. So how can Israel say: ‘welcome’?”
Tlaib and Omar are outspoken critics of Trump, who has a close relationship with Netanyahu.
Netanyahu alleged the itinerary of the congresswomen showed they intended to strengthen the boycott movement against the Zionist entity.
“As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any critic and criticism, with one exception,” Netanyahu said.
“Israel’s law prohibits the entry of people who call and act to boycott Israel, as is the case with other democracies that prevent the entry of people whom they see as harming the country.”
Amnesty Denounces Israeli Move
Commenting on the move, Amnesty International attacked Israeli authorities, sharply worded statement, for allowing visits by world leaders accused of war crimes and simultaneously barring entry to “those who critique it”.
“Israel bars entry on the basis of political views to those who critique it. Criticizing Israel’s policies isn’t violence,” said Molly Malekar, Amnesty International Israel’s director, in a statement.
Netanyahu’s government has allowed “free entry to world leaders accused of gross violations of human rights, war crimes, and crimes against humanity,” Malekar said.
Such leaders include Myanmar’s military generals and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte.
Israel has also “proudly embraced” leaders who have been “identified with supporting neo-Nazi and anti-Semitic groups”, such as Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban and Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro, she added.
Despite those visits, the Israeli government “automatically calls anti-Semitic anyone who dares to criticize it”.