After Israel granted permission for Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) to visit the country on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the West Bank, Tlaib announced Friday she would not visit Israel.
Israel’s decision to allow Tlaib’s visit come after the country barred Tlaib and her fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) from visiting the country on Thursday, after the two Muslim women co-sponsored a resolution to boycott Israel, comparing the Jewish state to Nazi Germany.
After Tlaib was blocked access from visiting, she wrote a letter asking Israel Interior Minister Aryeh Deri for permission to visit to see her relatives, “specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fauqa.”
“This could be my last opportunity to see her,” Tlaib wrote.
Deri issued a statement Friday announcing the Michigan
Democrat would be allowed to visit on humanitarian grounds if she is “committed
to accept all the demands of Israel to respect the restrictions imposed on her
in the visit, and she also promised not to advance boycotts against Israel
during her visit.”
Nonetheless, Tlaib responded to Israel’s decision to allow her to visit by slamming the country as racist and an oppressive state.
“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these
oppressive conditions stand against everything I believe in – fighting against racism,
oppression & injustice,” Tlaib said in a tweet Friday.
Tlaib’s family in the West Bank issued a statement to CNN
slamming Israel over the “conditional visit,” arguing visiting relatives is a “natural
“We reject the decision of the Israeli occupation to ban the entry of Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib. This highlights how Israel antagonizes every individual or organization that support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and rejects every attempt at explaining the reality of the Palestinian life under occupation,” Tlaib’s grandmother, Muftiya Tlaib, and her uncle, Ghassan Tlaib wrote. “It should be her natural right, not a favor to ask for, to visit her homeland and family.”
Tlaib and Omar have been vocal supporters of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions movement. The Democrat lawmakers – the first two Muslim women elected to Congress – voted against a House resolution condemning the movement, which was passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support.
Tlaib argued the resolution was “unconstitutional” and intended
to “silence” opposition to Israel policies.
Israel’s decision to prohibit the congresswomen from
visiting came after President Donald Trump warned Israel would be showing “great
weakness” by allowing them entry. Trump has criticized the two lawmakers for their
repeated anti-Semitic rhetoric.
The president called for Omar’s resignation in March after
she claimed U.S. support of Israel is motivated by money in remarks repudiated as
anti-Semitic by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle.
Following the decision to block Tlaib and Omar, Israel Prime
Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned, “The plan of the two Congresswomen is only
to damage Israel and to foment against Israel.”
“They have defined the destination of their visit as ‘Palestine’
and not ‘Israel.’ And unlike all the Democrat and Republican congressmen who
have visited until today, they avoided asking for any meeting with any Israel
official, whether in the government or in the opposition,” Netanyahu said.
While Israel passed an anti-boycott law in 2017 barring
supporters of the BDS movement from entering the country, Omar claimed Israel’s
decision to bar her entering the country is “an insult to democratic values.”
“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,” Omar said in a statement. “As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world,” she continued. “The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation.”