Nir Barkat
Nir Barkat Kobi Richter/TPS

Likud MK and former mayor of Jerusalem Nir Barkat spoke with i24News on Tuesday and said that he would be open to meeting US Representatives Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) if they were willing to "learn and listen."

Omar announced last month that she will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority and would be accompanied by Tlaib. Their visit is scheduled for August 18.

The two controversial lawmakers have been outspoken critics of the Israeli government and supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) movement.

Israel could have prevented their entry in light of a 2017 law which allows Israeli officials to ban supporters of the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, but Israel’s Ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, said the two women would be permitted entry out of respect for the US Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America.

Barkat told i24News that he would welcome the lawmakers but not if "they come with their opinion and create propaganda or make havoc in our country."

"If I would be convinced that they came to listen and learn in how this country works, how Jerusalem works, how our political system works, I would consider it... convincing people that (Israel's) path is the right path is the high road I think we should take," he added.

Omar had previously come under fire after she suggested on Twitter that Republicans were attacking her at the behest of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. She subsequently issued a half-hearted apology before ultimately deleting the controversial tweets.

Tlaib claimed in an interview in May that Palestinian Arabs living in the British Mandate prior to the establishment of the State of Israel “provided” a safe haven to Jews after the Holocaust.

She has also backed BDS and, when asked in a past television interview whether she would vote against military aid to Israel when she goes to Congress, replied “absolutely.”

Barkat was pressed in Tuesday’s interview on his thoughts over a growing concern that Israel is becoming more of a partisan issue in America, especially during the era of the Trump administration.

"Yes, I am concerned about the fact that (Israel) could be partisan. We have to consider and make efforts to work (in a bipartisan way)...I speak to Democrats and Republicans, my door is always open to both sides," he replied.

"We may not agree on ideology," Barkat added, "and we agree on Trump's international approach... however we must find a wide common denominator - similarly in the way we must do in (Israel)."

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