Published: Sun, August 25, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

Israel to Allow Rep. Rashida Tlaib to Enter Country to Visit Family

Israel to Allow Rep. Rashida Tlaib to Enter Country to Visit Family

On Thursday, Israel barred from entry the US Congress' first Muslim female lawmakers, Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, on the grounds that they support the boycott movement, and after President Donald Trump urged the Jewish state to block the two Democrats.

Trump's comment came amid a string of tweets Friday responding to Tlaib's announcement that she would not travel to Israel to visit her grandmother despite having been granted permission to enter the country from Israeli officials. Then, Israel said Tlaib could visit her family - including her 90-year-old grandmother - in the occupied West Bank.

Deri's office released what it said was Tlaib's written request, on congressional stationery dated Thursday, in which she said she wanted to visit her grandmother, who is in her 90s.

She said visiting her family under such "oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart".

Both Tlaib and Omar have been vocal advocates of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement.

David Friedman, the US ambassador to Israel, voiced support for Israel following the announcement by arguing it "has every right to protect its borders" against boycott activists whom he likened to "entrants with more conventional weapons". Trump and other Republicans have called the congresswomens' statements critical of Israel and its policies toward Palestinians as anti-Semitic. "You are my dream manifested, and I don't want you to come back here caged up, '" Tlaib said.

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Sen. Bernie Sanders told MSNBC Thursday night that perhaps Israel should not be receiving billions of dollars in US military aid after the right-wing government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu barred Reps. Israel said it was barring them because they support the movement to boycott Israel and were not meeting with Israeli officials on their trip.

That prompted criticism from Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who tweeted that Tlaib apparently hated Israel more than she loved her grandmother. It was this law that was used to bar entry for Omar and Tlaib. They were going to meet Israeli and Palestinian human rights activists, Palestinian youth, visit a Muslim holy site in Jerusalem and see the realities on the ground.

But that decision would be separate from the decision to bar them from entering Israel.

A biting tweet from President Trump in response Friday said, "the only real victor here is Tlaib's grandmother. 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".

Israel decision to deny entry to the two freshmen congresswomen amounted to a reversal of a position taken last month when Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said the two would be allowed to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories.

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