Published: Fri, August 16, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Israel says it will grant Tlaib visa for 'humanitarian' visit

Israel says it will grant Tlaib visa for 'humanitarian' visit

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. In a Twitter post sent out while Israeli officials were still deliberating the matter, he said, "it would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit". "I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in - fighting against racism, oppression and injustice", she said.

"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.

It was not immediately clear if she had initially agreed to the Israeli conditions, and if so what caused her to change her mind.

More than 600,000 Israeli live in the settlements, alongside almost three million Palestinians, in uneasy proximity throughout the West Bank and occupied east Jerusalem. The group has published a list of products and companies (pdf) owned by Israelis as part of its boycott call, saying the mission of the effort "is to force foreign governments, corporations, and individuals to abandon their support of Israel vies-a-vie threats to their economic interests".

Israeli lawmaker Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties, criticised the move, writing that "Israel has always banned Palestinians from their land and separated us from other Palestinians, but this time the Palestinian is a US Congresswoman".

Israel occupied the West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and has for decades built settlements considered illegal under global law. "I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit", she intially wrote.

But on Friday morning, Tlaib tweeted that she would not be visiting her grandmother and family after all. We are already hearing Democrats such as Nancy Pelosi and left-wing and liberal groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace and J Street denouncing Israel for the decision.

An Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other senior members of his cabinet held consultations on Wednesday on a "final decision" about the visit.

China wants informal United Nations talks today on Pak's Kashmir letter
Pakistani diplomats are working intensely to mobilize the global community against India's move. Kashmir is divided between India and Pakistan but claimed by both in its entirety.

"Miftah does not sponsor personal or individual or humanitarian visits nor do we intervene on behalf of any such petitions".

Ms Tlaib's grandmother and extended family live in the Palestinian village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa.

Israel's decision sparked widespread criticism, including from Israeli and Jewish organisations who said it was an affront to United States institutions to bar the entry of members of Congress.

Ms Tlaib and Ms Omar have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement over Israel's policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israel argues the movement is antisemitic and seeks to dismantle Israel as a Jewish state by reducing its Jewish majority. "I am not", Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, said of President Donald Trump's support for Israel's decision. He subjected them to a series of racist tweets last month in which he called on them to "go back" to their "broken" countries. This will save Democrats the bother of having to oppose Israeli policies and, by extension, having to enlist for the rights of Palestinians and defend the right of free speech in the US, including BDS. The American Jewish Congress said that despite Omar and Tlaib's planned "propaganda exercise", it believed that "the costs in the U.S. of barring the entry of two members of Congress may prove even higher than the alternative". Trump's actions marked a glaring departure from the tradition of American politicians leaving domestic disputes at the water's edge.

For Israel, the willingness to side so pointedly with Trump marks a deeper foray into America's bitterly polarized politics and risks its relationship with Congress.

Joint List MK Aida Touma-Sliman, who was due to meet the Congresswomen, said she would meet them elsewhere.

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