Why were Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib barred from entering Israel?

Nicholas Wu

WASHINGTON – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced that Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., were barred from entering the country ahead of a trip planned this weekend to visit sites at Jerusalem and the West Bank, among other stops.

Netanyahu said on Twitter that the two lawmakers were "planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycott and negate Israel's legitimacy." President Donald Trump had tweeted to encourage a ban earlier Thursday. 

"Congressmen Talib and Omar are leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against Israel in the US Congress," Netanyahu wrote in tweets on Thursday. "Only a few days ago, we received their visitation plan, and it became clear that they were planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycott and negate Israel's legitimacy."

More: Israel blocks Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering country

Netanyahu noted that Israel welcomed all visitors with one exception – an Israeli law passed in 2017 that instructs the Israeli Interior Minister to ban foreign nationals who publicly support movements to boycott Israel.  

Tlaib and Omar have spoken in support of the "Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions" (BDS) movement that seeks to, among other goals, pressure Israel into ending an occupation of the West Bank. 

Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in a tweet that "opposing Netanyahu's policies is not 'hating the Jewish people'" and called on Netanyahu to let Omar and Tlaib into the country.

The movement's opponents, on the other hand, see BDS directly in opposition to Israel. David Friedman, the American Ambassador to Israel, called it "not free speech" and "economic warfare" against the Israeli state.   

Contributing: Deirdre Shesgreen 

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Why are Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tliab barred from entering Israel?