Interior Minister Aryeh Deri confirmed on Thursday reports that Israel has decided to deny entry to two US congresswomen, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib, over their support for boycotting the Jewish state.

In a statement, Deri said the decision was supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and was made “after Minister Deri was convinced that [the visit] was part of boycott activism against Israel,” the statement said. It accused the two US lawmakers of “taking advantage” of their prominent political position “to support organizations that call for boycotts of Israel.”

“The state of Israel respects the American Congress as part of the close alliance between the two countries. But it is inconceivable that Israel would be expected to let into the country those who wish to hurt it, including by means of the visit itself,” the statement said.


Deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely announced the decision Thursday:

“Israel has decided — we won’t enable the members of Congress to enter the country,” Hotovely told public broadcaster Kan. “We won’t allow those who deny our right to exist in this world to enter Israel. In principle, this is a very justified decision.”

The decision confirms earlier reports that Israeli officials were leaning in that direction. Earlier Thursday, President Trump even publicly prodded Israel to stand firm in blocking Omar and Tlaib.

“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit,” Trump tweeted Thursday morning. “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”

Prime Minister Netanyahu has since made the following statement: