Friedman: US backs Israel's decision to bar Tlaib, Omar

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman releases a statement supporting Israel's decision to uphold ban on BDS supporters.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ambassador David Friedman
Ambassador David Friedman
Esti Desiubov/TPS

David Friedman, the United States ambassador to Israel, released a statement on Thursday regarding Israel's decision to deny entry to US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. "The United States supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry to the Tlaib/Omar Delegation," Friedman stated.

"The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel is not free speech. Rather, it is no less than economic warfare designed to delegitimize and ultimately destroy the Jewish State. Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstances present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons."

"Initially, Israel had indicated that it would accept the Tlaib/Omar Delegation, and use their visit as an opportunity to engage with and educate the delegation members with regard to Israel’s vibrant and robust democracy, its religious tolerance and its ethnic diversity. Unfortunately, the itinerary of the Tlaib/Omar Delegation leaves no room for that opportunity."

"In contrast to the nearly 70 freshmen members of Congress who just recently completed, or who are currently pursuing, a balanced visit to Israel that includes meetings with both Israeli and Palestinian leaders, the Tlaib/Omar Delegation has limited its exposure to tours organized by the most strident of BDS activists. This trip, pure and simple, is nothing more than an effort to fuel the BDS engine that Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar so vigorously supportive.

"Like the United States, Israel is a nation of laws. We support Israel’s application of its laws in this case," Friedman concluded.

Earlier on Thursday, Israel's Interior Ministry announced that Minnesota Congresswoman Ilhan Omar and Michigan Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib will be banned from entering Israel, citing the 2017 anti-BDS law.

“The decision was made based on the opinion of the Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz, and Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, after Minister Deri noted that the matter involved supporters of the anti-Israel boycott, who are prohibited from entering the country, according to the law regarding entry into Israel,” the Interior Minister's office said in a statement Thursday.

"These are people who use the most influential platform in the world to express support for BDS organizations which call for the boycotting of Israel. The State of Israel respects the American Congress, as part of the close alliance between our two countries, but we cannot permit people into the country who seek to hurt the State of Israel."