Reps. Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib still won’t be permitted to join a U.S. delegation to Israel this week, but Tlaib will be able to visit her grandmother living in the West Bank. But on Friday morning, Tlaib said she wouldn't go.
"Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me," Tlaib posted on Twitter. "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."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government capitulated to pressure from President Donald Trump Thursday, who had written on Twitter that “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit.”
“They hate Israel & all Jewish people,” he continued, “& there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!”
Tlaib tweeted a photo of her grandmother Thursday evening, along with the caption, “This woman right here is my sity. She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness b/c the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.”
But after widespread criticism for the Israeli government’s ban of the two Congresswomen—including from Republican lawmakers and AIPAC—the government partially reversed its decision, informing Tlaib that she could enter if she submitted a request to visit her family on humanitarian grounds, provided that she promised not to “promote boycotts against Israel” while there.
Tlaib sent a request to Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri on Thursday, writing, “I would like admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”
Deri reportedly approved the request Friday.
Tlaib and Omar had planned to visit the West Bank and East Jerusalem as part of a trip organized by Miftah, a nonprofit organization headed by Palestinian lawmaker and peace negotiator Hanan Ashrawi. In Netanyahu’s decision to bar the lawmakers’ entry, he cited their support of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions, or BDS movement.
“As a free and vibrant democracy,” he said, “Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for, and work to impose, boycotts on Israel.” He argued that their “sole objective” in making the trip was to “strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy.”
According to Aaron David Miller, an analyst, author, and Middle East peace negotiator, Israel’s decision to bar Tlaib and Omar was unprecedented. The government has reportedly never barred before a member of the U.S. Congress from entering Israel, and Israel’s ambassador to the U.S., Ron Dermer, had promised just last month that the two women would be allowed to visit Israel “out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America.”
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