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Israel Thrusted into Center of US Political Debate

The decision by Israel to bar entry to Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Omar Ilan continues to make waves in the US, placing the Jewish state in a precarious situation in which Democrats and Republicans are at odds over the future nature of the bilateral relationship. On Tuesday, US President Donald Trump again weighed in, saying that American Jews who vote for Democrats “show either total lack of knowledge or great disloyalty.” The president made his comments after being asked about Tlaib and Omar’s push to cut military aid to Israel. Tlaib on Monday said: “We give Israel more than $3 billion in aid every year. This is predicated on their [sic] being an important ally in the region and the only democracy in the Middle East.… But denying visits to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally. And denying millions of [Palestinian] people freedom of movement or expression or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy.” In response, President Trump asserted that, “five years ago the concept of even talking about cutting off aid to Israel because of two people who hate Israel and hate Jewish people – I can’t believe we are having this conversation. Where has the Democratic party gone?” Historically, Israel has made great efforts to maintain bipartisan US support, which is viewed as a key strategic interest. Meanwhile, Israeli ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer has reportedly been banned from meeting with any Democratic lawmaker.