14:41 GMT +321 September 2019
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    Israel Bans Visit of Two US Lawmakers to East Jerusalem, Deputy Foreign Minister Says

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    The move comes amid heightened violence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority which saw clashes between Israeli police and Muslim worshippers during prayers at a major East Jerusalem mosque to mark the Eid al-Adha holiday last week.

    Israel has decided to bar a visit by the two US Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar to the Jewish state, Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told Reshet Radio on Thursday.

    “The decision has been made, the decision is not to allow them to enter”, Hotovely pointed out.

    The statement comes hours after Reuters quoted an unnamed Israeli official as saying that the Jewish State is considering banning a visit to the West Bank and East Jerusalem by US Democrats Tlaib and Omar, who have repeatedly voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

    “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 noted.  Other unnamed sources were cited by Reuters as saying that the House of Representatives’ Ethics Committee is yet to approve the visit which was expected to kick off this weekend.

    Israel’s Channel 12 reported that Tlaib and Omar had already been barred from entering the Jewish state after fierce government debates.

    The report, which did not cite any source and was not confirmed, said that “the final decision was being drafted and passed around for revisions before the move is publicly announced.”

    Earlier, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu jointly with other senior government officials held consultations on a “final decision” related to the visit by Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress.

    US President Trump’s Stance on Israel

    The trip may see the two US lawmakers visiting the holy compound in East Jerusalem which houses the shrine which Muslims refer to as the al-Aqsa mosque and Jews as the Temple Mount. It is also believed to be the third most important Muslim shrine.

    Last week, media reported that US President Donald Trump had  expressed disappointment over Israel’s decision not to bar the two US lawmakers from visiting the country, given that Israel’s laws stipulate that border authorities should turn away supporters of the anti-Israel boycott movement.

    Earlier, Trump has repeatedly touted the Mideast peace plan as a “deal of the century,” which aims to end the decades-long conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians  which has escalated since 6 December, 2017, when Trump announced his decision to recognise Jerusalem as Israel's capital

    In the latest spike of violence, Israeli police clashed with Muslim worshippers at the al-Aqsa mosque as prayers celebrated the Eid al-Adha holiday. Palestinian medics claimed that at least 14 people had been wounded during the skirmishes, while Israeli policemen said that at least four officers had been wounded.

    Israelis see Jerusalem as the “complete and united” capital of the Jewish State, with the international community insisting that the status of the city should be resolved on the basis of an agreement with the Palestinians, who claim the eastern part of Jerusalem.

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    clashes, support, violence, East Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority, United States, Israel
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