Israel had approved Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s request to visit her grandmother in the West Bank, but the congresswoman said Friday she won’t make the trip after all, saying she didn’t want to give in to Israel’s “oppressive & racist policies.”
The Michigan Democrat learned on Thursday that she and fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar had been barred from taking a trip sponsored by a Palestinian nonprofit, after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided her trip would have been a flashpoint for the anti-Israel boycott movement.
He said he would still allow Ms. Tlaib, who is of Palestinian heritage, to visit family, and early Friday morning it appeared she would go.
But in a series of posts on Twitter, she rethought the decision.
“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression and injustice,” she tweeted.
Interior Minister Aryeh Deri shot back after Ms. Tlaib’s announcement, accusing her of setting it up just to embarrass Israel.
“Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” he tweeted.
President Trump slammed Ms. Tlaib for the about-face Friday evening, calling the move “obnoxious.”
“The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!” he tweeted.
House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer accused the Israeli government of holding Ms. Tlaib to a higher standard than other lawmakers by requiring her to sign a letter pledging not to advocate for BDS during her time with family.
“To my knowledge, no Member of Congress has ever been asked to agree to preconditions in order to visit Israel,” he said in a statement. “Not only was this request disrespectful of Rep. Tlaib but of the United States Congress as well.”
Mr. Hoyer described the situation as a “self-inflicted wound” urged by President Trump.
The freshman congresswoman talked about her election victory last year, making her one of only three Muslims in Congress. Ms. Omar of Minnesota is another of the three.
“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 to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” she wrote Friday.
Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar are vocal supporters of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement that seeks to strangle Israel’s economy to try to force it to change its policy toward Palestinian territory.
Israel last month had signaled they would be allowed to visit notwithstanding those views, but on Thursday Mr. Netanyahu decided to enforce an Israeli law that allows the government to ban any BDS activist from entering the country.
“As a vibrant and free democracy, Israel is open to any critic and criticism, with one exception,” the prime minister said in a statement. “Congressmen [sic] Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against Israel in the U.S. Congress.”
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