Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida asserted that Democratic Reps. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota wanted to be banned from traveling to Israel from the start.
The Republican senator pointed to Tlaib’s decision not to travel to the Jewish state after Israel granted her a visa on humanitarian grounds to visit family members.
Rubio, who serves on the Foreign Relations Committee, tweeted, “After being denied entry on official visit Rep. Tlaib asked for a humanitarian visa to visit her 90 year old grandmother.”
“#Israel granted her request,” Rubio noted. “But now she turns it down. As I said before, being blocked is what they wanted all along.”
After being denied entry on official visit Rep. Tlaib asked for a humanitarian visa to visit her 90 year old grandmother. #Israel granted her request.
But now she turns it down.
As I said before,being blocked is what they wanted all along. https://t.co/nrBuSRgOzK
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 16, 2019
On Thursday, the lawmaker tweeted, “I disagree 100% with Reps. Tlaib & Omar on #Israel & am the author of the #AntiBDS bill we passed in the Senate.”
“But denying them entry into #Israel is a mistake,” he continued. “Being blocked is what they really hoped for all along in order to bolster their attacks against the Jewish state.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended denying a congressional visit by Omar and Tlaib, pointing to their support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.
“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,” Netanyahu said in a statement posted on Facebook.
“Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress,” he added. “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.”
Netanyahu pointed out the congresswomen’s itinerary listed “Palestine,” not Israel, as their destination, and they specifically chose not to meet with members of the Israeli government during their trip.
The Israeli prime minister noted only a week ago his nation hosted 70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress, “who expressed bipartisan support for Israel.”
Netanyahu added in in statement if Tlaib wished to see her Palestinian relatives, that request would be considered separately, based on humanitarian grounds, under the condition “she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.”
Tlaib explained her ultimate decision not to travel to Israel in a tweet on Friday, saying the condition is unacceptable.
“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me,” she wrote.
Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice. https://t.co/z5t5j3qk4H
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 16, 2019
“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”
Omar responded to Israel’s decision to block her and Tlaib’s congressional trip, tweeting, “Denying visits to duly elected Members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy. We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians.”
Omar’s resolution likened Americans taking such action to boycotting Nazi Germany.
The Daily Caller’s Jason Hopkins and National Review’s David French reported that Tlaib and Omar’s trip to Jerusalem and the West Bank was planned by Mitfah, a group known for its anti-Semitic views and that is sympathetic to Palestinian terrorist activities.
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