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US’ Tlaib rejects Israel offer to visit grandmother in West Bank

August 16, 2019 at 3:08 pm

Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib (L) and Somali-born American Ilhan Omar are set to become the first Muslims in Congress [Rashida Tlaib/Twitter]

US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib has rejected Israel’s offer to allow her to visit her grandmother in the occupied West Bank.

Israel yesterday banned Tlaib and fellow Democratic Party Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from entering the country for a diplomatic visit, citing their alleged support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

Though Israel’s Interior Ministry subsequently accepted a request from Tlaib to enter the country on “humanitarian grounds” in order to visit her 90-year-old grandmother – who lives in the West Bank village of Beit Ur Al-Fouqa – Tlaib has now rejected Israel’s offer.

Tlaib wrote on Twitter today following news of her ban that “my sity [grandma] wanted to pick figs w/ me. I broke down reading this & worry every single day after I won [the 2018 Congressional elections] for my family’s safety. My cousin was texting me which photo of [Ilhan Omar] & I they should put on a welcoming poster when I heard the news. I couldn’t tell her.”

OPINION: Israel won’t silence Tlaib, Omar by banning them from entry

The Michigan Congresswoman continued: “When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity [grandma] to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies.”

Tlaib then went on to say that she would not accept Israel’s offer to visit the country: “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. 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.”

Tlaib and Omar had planned to enter Israel in order to visit the occupied West Bank on a diplomatic tour, but were banned by Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri. The ministry cited the pair’s alleged support for the BDS movement, supporters of which are routinely banned from entering Israel under the country’s 2017 anti-BDS law.

Though Israel had previously assured senior Democrats that Tlaib and Omar would not be barred from entry, following pressure from US President Donald Trump the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reneged on its previous guarantees.

Both Israel’s decision to ban Tlaib and Omar and the US president’s apparent intervention have come under fierce criticism from across the political spectrum, including from Democratic Party 2020 presidential hopefuls, AIPAC and centre-left Israeli parties and Arab-Israeli Knesset Members (MKs).

Rep. Ayanna Pressley: US should ‘reevaluate’ Israel ties over Tlaib, Omar entry ban