House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on Friday slammed President Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for “weakness” after a move to block two U.S. congresswomen from visiting Israel stoked tensions between the Israeli government and congressional Democrats.
During an interview with The Associated Press published late Friday, Pelosi emphasized that U.S.-Israeli relations can “withstand” Trump and Netanyahu, but argued that the “weakness of Netanyahu and the weakness of Donald Trump combined” into a policy that is “a no.”
“We have a deep relationship and long-standing relationship with Israel that can withstand Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu,” Pelosi told the outlet. “We cannot let their weaknesses stand in the way of our ongoing relationship.”
The Democratic leader also told the AP that the United States’ commitment to Israel did not depend on either Trump or Netanyahu, the outlet reported.
Pelosi said she had “great, great, great sadness” over Israel’s decision this week to block Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from visiting the country, a move that sparked outcry from many lawmakers who called the decision a mistake.
“Members will make their own decisions about this, but I would not discourage travel to Israel,” Pelosi said.
“We have a strong relationship with Israel as well as a deep love and respect for the people of Israel. And, again, this is not going to undermine that, try as President Trump will to do that.”
Trump, who has feuded with the two congresswomen, called on the Israeli government to deny entry to Omar and Tlaib for a trip that was scheduled to begin this weekend, blasting past comments they have made as anti-Semitic and claiming that they “hate” Israel.
In response, Israeli officials said this week that Omar and Tlaib would not be allowed to enter the country.
The move sparked a fierce backlash among various Democratic lawmakers and presidential candidates as well as some GOP lawmakers, who argued that members of Congress should be allowed to conduct diplomatic trips to the country.
Meanwhile, some Republicans suggested that the two congresswomen should have joined a larger bipartisan congressional delegation that visited Israel earlier in the month instead of making plans for their own visit.
Trump accused Tlaib of grandstanding and questioned whether there was a “setup” after Israel said she could enter the West Bank to visit her family.
Trump complained in a tweet that the Michigan Democrat “obnoxiously” turned down the Israeli exemption to let her into the country.
“The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!” Trump tweeted.
Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup. The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 16, 2019
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