Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women elected to Congress, are scheduled to visit Israel with a congressional delegation this weekend. But the Israeli government is considering barring them from entering, according to several media reports.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly met with cabinet officials on Wednesday to determine whether or not the progressive legislators would be allowed to tour the West Bank, Jerusalem, Bethlemen, Hebron, and Ramallah as they had reportedly planned, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Anonymous Israeli officials told the Journal more information would be available later on Thursday, saying only that there was a “possibility that Israel” wouldn’t approve of the “current proposed format” for the trip. It’s not clear what proposed format that official might’ve been referring to, as there is no released schedule.
Omar, a Democrat from Minnesota, and Tlaib, a Democrat from Michigan, are expected to arrive on Sunday, but have no meetings planned with either Israeli or Palestinian officials, according to the New York Times. The offices of Omar and Tlaib did not immediately respond to a VICE News request for comment.
Omar is reportedly planning to depart Aug. 22, while Tlaib might stay longer to visit family living in the West Bank. An anonymous official told the Washington Post that the Israeli government may be open to a request from Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, to meet with her relatives. Under that circumstance, Omar wouldn’t be allowed to come along, according to the New York Times.
Both congresswomen have long been critical of Israel, and were the first U.S. legislators to endorse the boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) movement, a Palestinian-led effort to cut ties with Israeli businesses while sanctioning the nation for human-rights abuses of Palestinians. In 2017 Israel passed a law that allows it to deny entry to pro-BDS activists.
Still, Netanyahu may bow to pressure from pro-Israel groups in the U.S. and progressive Democratic legislators and allow the women in, according to the Washington Post. Additionally, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer said last month that Israel would allow the congressional visit.
President Donald Trump, however, has encouraged Israel to bar the congresswomen from entering. He said in a tweet Thursday morning that the women “hate all Jewish people,” despite there being no evidence for that claim.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit,” Trump wrote. “Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”
Cover: UNITED STATES - MARCH 13: Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., right, and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., attend a rally with Democrats in the Capitol to introduce the "Equality Act," which will amend existing civil rights legislation to bar discrimination based on gender identification and sexual orientation on Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call via AP Images)