US lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib blocked from visiting Israel

US Democratic lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib who were due to visit the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem next week were blocked by Israel on Thursday.

Both have supported the boycott movement against Israel, but Israeli law allows supporters of the campaign to be banned from visiting.

President Trump earlier tweeted it would show “great weakness” if the pair were allowed entry.

On Thursday Donald Trump took to Twitter to urge that they be blocked from visiting, adding that “they hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds”.

The two US lawmakers have yet to comment on the decision.

Israeli officials had earlier said they would make an exception for the elected US officials, before backtracking.

Israeli law blocks entrance visas to any foreigner who calls for any type of boycott that targets Israel – either economic, cultural or academic. The law attempts to suppress the “boycott, divest, sanction” movement, which has drawn growing support across Europe and the US.

It’s being reported that Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib’s trip was to begin on Sunday, and would include a stop at one of the most sensitive sites in the region – a hilltop plateau in Jerusalem known to Jews as the Temple Mount and Muslims as Haram al-Sharif.

They also planned to visit Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and travel to Jerusalem and the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron. The trip to the West Bank was planned by Miftah, an organisation headed by Palestinian peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi.

Rashida Tlaib was to extend her trip by upto two days to visit her grandmother, who lives in a Palestinian village.

Source : Various