U.S. lawmaker Tlaib won’t visit West Bank under ‘oppressive conditions’ imposed by Israel

U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib says she won’t travel to the West Bank after all to visit her family after the Israeli government lifted a ban on her entry, citing “oppressive conditions” that she says just work to humiliate her.

Israeli officials decided to reverse an earlier decision to bar Tlaib by giving her entry to visit family, so long as she doesn’t advocate a boycott of Israel. 

Tlaib submitted a letter earlier to the Israeli government in which she promised to respect any restrictions imposed on her visit to the West Bank, but she has changed her mind and will not go. 

In a tweet on Friday, she said she doesn’t want the Israeli government to silence her and treat her like a criminal. Visiting her family, particularly her grandmother, under “humiliating” conditions set by Israel amounts to a violation of her values.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said Thursday he would not allow Tlaib, of Michigan, and fellow Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, to make a planned trip to Israel.

The ban sparked widespread criticism, including from Israeli and Jewish organizations that said it was an affront to U.S. institutions to bar the entry of members of Congress.

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

However, Netanyahu said that if Tlaib submitted a request to visit family on humanitarian grounds, Israel would consider it as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel.

Tlaib’s initial letter to Israel’s Ministry of Interior on Thursday requested permission “to visit relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s,” adding it “could be my last opportunity to see her.”

“I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit,” Tlaib had written in the request, which was circulated by the Ynet website and other Israeli media. 

Israel’s Interior Ministry said in a statement it had “decided on Friday to approve the entry of U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for a humanitarian visit to her 90-year-old grandmother.”

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