Axois is reporting that several administration sources have said that Pres. Trump has specifically urged his own staff and Israeli officials to deny entry to Reps. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who plan a study trip to Palestine in the near future:
Trump has told U.S. advisers, including senior Trump administration officials, that Israel should bar Omar and Tlaib’s entry because the two congresswomen favor a boycott of Israel, according to sources familiar with Trump’s private comments…
Trump told confidants he disagreed with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer’s rationale for Israel to overlook the law to let Omar and Tlaib visit Israel…Trump said that if Omar and Tlaib wanted to boycott Israel, “then Israel should boycott them,” according to a source with direct knowledge.
Israeli officials say congressional Democratic leadership pushed Dermer to allow the congresswomen into the country. Their advocacy, per those officials, is a major reason why Netanyahu will allow the two women in.
The Democrats had argued that if the Israeli government blocked Omar and Tlaib’s entry, then other Democratic members would cancel a planned, AIPAC-sponsored Israel trip in solidarity, these officials said.
This is Trump once again playing the role of spoiler. He knows that Democrats pressured Israel to permit the Congressional Women of Color of entry. He also knows that the Democratic Israel junket is already in Israel, and the Democrats have no recourse should Netanyahu change his mind and deny entry. Splitting these Democrats from progressive pro-Palestine insurgents will only further fragment the Democratic Party. Which is just what Trump wants.
Bibi owes Democrats nothing and would happily renege on the deal (he’s done so so many times before!). He also hates Democrats and has a trusted pal in Trump. So the key is Dermer and whether he feels any obligation to honor the deal he himself negotiated with Congressional Democrats. My guess is that he retains a tad more honor than his boss and that he will lobby Bibi to retain the agreement.
But I can tell you one thing, if Israel denies entry it will raise a huge stink even among pro-Israel Democrats. Even worse, it will strengthen the case of pro-Palestinian and BDS activists that Israel is an apartheid state which can’t be trusted to honor any agreement it makes with anyone, even putative allies like pro-Israel Democrats. Either way, progressives win on this one. If the two Congress members get to Palestine, they will disseminate their findings widely and the world will listen. If they are barred, they have an even larger platform to denounce their treatment at the hands of an apartheid regime afraid of its own shadow.
Further, it will strengthen opposition to anti-BDS legislation because Americans will realize that this campaign has denied American elected officials access to Palestine and prevented them from pursuing their foreign affairs and legislative duties. It will also point out the utter hypocrisy of Israel permitting members of Congress to visit Israel while refusing other members the right to visit Palestine. No amount of blather using BDS as an excuse for denial of access will be persuasive.
If Israel does deny entry, the onus will be on Congressional Democrats to respond forcefully given the betrayal of the agreement Dermer negotiated. Would they? Given how attenuated they are–how dependent on pro- Israel campaign cash–the issue is by no means certain. They could fold like a pack of cards. In which case the insurgent progressives in Congress would have shamed the corporate wing of the Party yet again. Or they could force Dermer and the Lobby to pay a cost by refusing to bring any delegation next year.