House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday vowed that the U.S.-Israel relationship would not suffer because of the “weakness” of President Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Netanyahu, who faced pressured from Trump, banned Democratic Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib from entering Israel this week despite their intention of visiting the country.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Pelosi said that the “weakness of Netanyahu and the weakness of Donald Trump combined into a policy that’s ‘a no.'”
“We have a deep relationship and long-standing relationship with Israel that can withstand Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu,” Pelosi said. “We cannot let their weaknesses stand in the way of our ongoing relationship.”
Pelosi insisted that she does not think that the relationship between the two countries would be crippled in the future because of Netanyahu’s decision, and she also said neither leader has great influence that could deter their alliance.
After banning the two minority congresswomen, Israel later granted Tlaib a permit to visit her grandmother who lives in the West Bank but requested that she refrain from joining in on any boycott, divestment, and sanctions events or protests against Israel during her stay.
Tlaib initially agreed to comply with Israel’s demands but reversed herself on Friday, saying she ultimately would not visit her grandmother.
“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me,” Tlaib said. “It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”
Trump, who has been a frequent critic of Tlaib, Omar and their so-called “squad,” took to Twitter on Friday to bash Tlaib for canceling her upcoming trip.
“Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother,” Trump tweeted. “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!”
Pelosi expressed “great sadness” over the two leaders’ decision but said other members of Congress should still visit Israel.
“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.”