Middle East

US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib declines Israel visit over ‘oppressive conditions’

Israel on Friday reversed its decision to refuse US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib entry to the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

The Interior Ministry said Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, would be allowed to visit her grandmother on “humanitarian” grounds.

The ministry said the U-turn followed a written pledge by the US lawmaker “to respect conditions imposed by Israel.”

Tlaib, however, has turned the offer down, saying the government had imposed “oppressive conditions” on the visit in order to humiliate her.

“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in,” she wrote on Twitter.

“Silencing me and treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me.”


Banned over boycott support

Tlaib and fellow Democratic lawmaker Ilhan Omar were barred from entering Israel on Thursday over their support for boycotting the country in the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement.

The pair are the first Muslim women elected to the US Congress and among the most critical of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians. They were due to arrive in Israel at the weekend to visit Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories.

Israel’s decision sparked widespread criticism, including from Israeli and Jewish organizations who said it was unacceptable to bar members of the US Congress.


Personal letter

Following the ban, Tlaib petitioned the Israeli government to allow her to visit her family “specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa.”

“This could be my last opportunity to see her,” Tlaib wrote, adding: “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

The ministry said it hoped Tlaib would stick to her pledge.

Israel passed a law in 2017 banning entry of activists including Jewish supporters of the BDS movement, arguing it is anti-Semitic and a threat to the country’s existence.

BDS supporters argue it is a nonviolent movement similar to the anti-apartheid struggle in South Africa in response to Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank and illegal settlement building.

US President Donald Trump, meanwhile, has openly clashed with Tlaib, Omar and two other Democratic congresswomen over Israel and their “leftist” policies in a bid to rally the conservative Republican base ahead of the 2020 elections.

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