Israel says it will grant Tlaib visit on ‘humanitarian’ grounds

Israel had earlier announced it would bar US congresswomen Omar and Tlaib from occupied West Bank.

Israel will allow a visit by barred US Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, on “humanitarian” grounds, the interior ministry announced.

Friday’s announcement comes a day after Israel said it would bar a planned visit by Tlaib and fellow Muslim congresswoman Ilhan Omar over their support of a boycott of Israel for its treatment of the Palestinians.

Israel’s Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided to allow Tlaib to make a “humanitarian visit to her grandmother” in the occupied West Bank after the lawmaker had sent him a written pledge “to respect conditions imposed by Israel”.

Tlaib had “promised not to promote the cause of the boycott of Israel during her stay”, in a letter to Deri sent overnight, the ministry said in a statement.

Israeli media published the letter, which read: “I would like to request admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s…

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

Tlaib and Omar have voiced support for the BDS movement, which seeks to use non-violent means to pressure Israel to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, dismantle the separation wall, ensure equality for its Palestinian citizens and implement the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their lands. 

Under Israeli law, BDS backers can be denied entry to Israel. 

On Thursday, Tlaib condemned Israel barring her from visiting the occupied West Bank, tweeting that it was a “sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening”.

Trump push

Earlier on Thursday, Trump had said in a tweet: “It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep Omar and Rep Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.”

Within hours, the Israeli foreign ministry, in consultation with Netanyahu, announced their refusal to allow the two Muslim congresswomen into the occupied West Bank.

The decision was swiftly denounced by Miftah, the Palestinian group cosponsoring the planned trip this weekend, as “an affront to the American people and their representatives” and “an assault on the Palestinian people’s right to reach out to decision-makers and other actors from around the world.”

Last month, the Republican president had targeted Omar, Tlaib and two other Democratic congresswomen of colour with racist attacks, saying the four politicians should “go back” to where they came from.

In response, a defiant Omar said she believed Trump was “fascist”.

“I want to remind people that this is what this president and his supporters have turned our country that is supposed to be a country that we allow democratic debate and dissent to take place,” she told reporters last month.

“So this is not about me, this about us fighting for what this country truly should be.”

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies