(Update: Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Minn.) says she will not go to Israel to visit her ailing grandmother, even though Israel's interior ministry said it would allow her to visit on humanitarian grounds. Tlaib tweeted her change of heart Friday morning.)
The itinerary provided by Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) and Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) shows the sole purpose of their scheduled trip to Israel – which is being funded by an anti-Israel organization - is to harm it, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday, defending his decision to ban the two congresswomen from Israel.
“No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel,” Netanyahu began a series of tweets on his office’s official Twitter account, in which he explains how Israeli law prohibits entry by Tlaib and Omar:
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel. As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism”
“with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country.”
“In fact, in the past the US did this to an Israeli member of Knesset, as well as to other public figures from around the world.”
“Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress.”
Netanyahu explained that Tlaib and Omar actually admitted in their itinerary that the only goal of their visit is to harm and delegitimize Israel:
“Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy.”
“For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.
“A week ago, Israel warmly welcomed some 70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress, who expressed broad bipartisan support for Israel, which was also demonstrated a month ago in a resounding bipartisan vote against BDS in Congress.”
“However, the itinerary of the two Congresswomen reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.”
What’s more, the planned trip by Tlaib and Omar is being funded by an organization whose members have advocated terrorism against Israel, Netanyahu wrote:
“In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.
“Therefore, the minister of interior has decided not to allow their visit, and I, as prime minister, support his decision.”
Still, Prime Minister Netanyahu says, Tlaib and Omar might still be allowed into Israel if they confine their efforts solely to humanitarian purposes:
“Nonetheless, if Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the minister of interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.”