By Isabel Kershner, Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Peter Baker, NY Times—
Under intense pressure from President Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government on Thursday barred two members of the United States Congress from entering Israel, reversing a previous decision to admit two of the president’s most outspoken critics.
By enlisting a foreign power to take action against two American citizens, let alone elected members of Congress, Mr. Trump crossed a line that other presidents have not, in effect exporting his partisan battles beyond the country’s borders. And he demonstrated the lengths that he will go to to target his domestic opponents, in this case two of the congresswomen of color he has sought to make the face of the Democratic Party heading into his re-election campaign.
In blocking the visits of the two Democratic congresswomen, who are both Muslim, Mr. Netanhyahu cited their support for boycotting Israel, acceding to the wishes of the American president, who declared on Twitter shortly before Israel’s announcement that letting them in would “show great weakness.”
The move not only inflamed the politics of both countries, it joined Mr. Trump and Mr. Netanyahu even more closely as partners against their mutual adversaries as the prime minister faces a critical election next month.
Speaking with reporters before flying to Manchester, N.H., for a rally, Mr. Trump would not say whether he spoke directly with Mr. Netanyahu about the matter but acknowledged that he “did speak with people” privately even before tweeting about it. Continue Reading….