The possibility exists that Israel will not allow the visit in its current form. Professional and legal teams in the government ministries are continuing to examine the material” .
Israel is considering barring a visit by two of its sharpest critics in the U.S. Congress, Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, who plan to tour the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, an Israeli official said on Thursday.
No date has been formally announced for the trip, but sources familiar with the planned visit said it could begin at the weekend.
Israel had occupied Al Quds (East Jerusalem), where the flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound is located, during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.
Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress and a flank of the Democratic party’s progressive wing, have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.
Under Israeli law, backers of the movement can be denied entry to Israel. But Israel’s ambassador in the United States, Ron Dermer, said last month they would be let in, out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the U.S.-Israeli relationship.
An Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior members of his cabinet held consultations on Wednesday on a “final decision” about the visit.
Denying entry to elected U.S. officials could further strain relations between Netanyahu, who has highlighted his close ties with U.S. President Donald Trump in his current re-election campaign, and the Democratic leadership in Congress.
“The possibility exists that Israel will not allow the visit in its current form. Professional and legal teams in the government ministries are continuing to examine the material,” the official said.
Approval of the trip is still pending in the House of Representatives Ethics Committee, which would examine its itinerary, according to sources involved in planning the visit.
“To make sure there’s apparent Israeli sovereignty over the site, they’ll demand Israeli police go in with them, and not just the Waqf officials,” said one of the sources with knowledge of the planned visit, referring to Muslim religious authorities.
Tlaib, 43, who was born in the United States, draws her roots to the Palestinian village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa in the West Bank. Her grandmother and extended family live in the village.
Ilhan Omar, who immigrated to the United States from Somalia as a child, represents Minnesota’s fifth congressional district.