Israel reportedly held a secret meeting to get ready for the approaching visit of the two BDS-supporting Muslim Democrats.
By World Israel News Staff
Israel held a “secret preparatory meeting” ahead of a coming visit to the Jewish state by Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Israel’s Channel 13 reported on Wednesday.
News of the meeting came shortly before media reported that Israel intended to block the two democratic congresswomen from entering, though an official announcement has not yet been made. The move would mark a reversal of an earlier decision to allow them to visit.
The meeting, led by Reuven Azar, National Security Council Foreign Policy Adviser to the Prime Minister, “was defined as sensitive, and representatives of the various government ministries who participated in it were instructed to keep it secret,” Channel 13 reports.
The meeting focused on the likelihood that the two freshman House democrats would visit the Temple Mount. The holiest site in Judaism, it is also claimed by Muslims as their third holiest site after Mecca and Medina.
According to sources in the meeting cited by Channel 13, Azar stressed that while Omar and Tlaib would be allowed to enter the Temple Mount, “the Israeli police, who are in charge of the Temple Mount, must ensure that Palestinian officials are not part of the congresswomen’s visit.”
The meeting also decided that members of the congresswomen’s entourage would be examined “on a case-by-case basis” and not all would necessarily be allowed to enter Israel. Toward that end, the U.S. Embassy in Israel would be asked as soon as possible for a list of all the members coming as part of the congressional delegation.
Officials at the meeting agreed that it was important to “reduce the media echo” of the visit and to explore the possibility of beating Omar and Tlaib to the punch by preparing an “advanced strike” in the press, according to Channel 13.
At the end of the meeting, Azar said the best outcome would be that the “congresswomen don’t come to Israel at all.” But if they do, the goal will be to minimize damage in the media and to U.S.-Israel relations.
It’s not clear exactly when the two freshman House democrats intended to arrive. Axios reported they are expected to land in Tel Aviv on Friday, meaning they moved up their trip, as they had been expected on Monday of next week, Yediot Ahronot reports.
Their plans would be rendered moot if the latest reports that Israel will no longer allow them to enter are true.
Omar and Tlaib, who are the first Muslims elected to Congress, have sponsored pro-BDS legislation in the House of Representatives. They have also been accused of making anti-Israel and anti-Semitic comments.