Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib will be allowed to enter Israel to visit her elderly grandmother, the country’s interior minister said.
In a softened stance, Minister Aryeh Deri said on Friday that they would allow the Muslim lawmaker to enter the country on humanitarian grounds.
Rashida Tlaib, along with her colleague Ilhan Omar, had previously been banned from entering Israel due to their vocal support of Palestinians and the BDS movement.
The decision came hours after Tlaib submitted a letter requesting to be allowed in despite the ban to visit family living in the West Bank.
She had previously told reporters it could be the last chance for her to see her elderly grandmother, who is in her 90s.
Democratic Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (pictured) will be allowed to enter Israel to visit her elderly grandmother
In a softened stance, Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri (pictured) said on Friday that they would allow the Muslim lawmaker to enter the country on humanitarian grounds
Rep. Tlaib’s grandmother Muftia Tlaib lives in the occupied West Bank
Tlaib vowed to ‘respect any restrictions’ and not promote boycotts of Israel during her visit.
‘I would like to request admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa,’ Tlaib wrote in her letter to Aryeh Deri.
‘This could be my last opportunity to see her.’
A statement released by Deri on Friday morning granted Tlaib permission to visit her grandmother, expressing ‘hope that she will live up to her promise and that the visit will only be for humanitarian needs.’
Tlaib and Omar had previously slammed Israel’s decision not to let them visit the country, accusing him of implementing Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ against two members of Congress.
Omar, who is a frequent target of the president’s wrath, yesterday referred to the administration’s policy to ban refugees from seven Muslim countries, including her birthplace of Somalia.
‘It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government. Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress,’ the Minnesota Democrat said in a statement.
Omar, who along with Tlaib is an outspoken supporter of Palestine, used her statement to criticize Netanyahu for his treatment of Palestinians, saying it was ‘not a surprise’ that the two were forbidden from their trip, which was organized by a Palestinian lawmaker and included a stop at the Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam. It sits close to the site of the Second Temple, the holiest site in Judaism, making it a hot spot in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
‘Sadly, this is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump,’ the congresswoman said.
Tlaib, meanwhile, tweeted on Thursday a photo of her grandmother Muftia Tlaib, who lives in the occupied West Bank, and said Israel’s decision to ‘bar her granddaughter’ from visiting was a ‘sign of weakness.’
Trump had previously praised Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for banning Democratic lawmakers Ilhan Omar (left) and Rashida Tlaib (right) from visiting this weekend
Tlaib, meanwhile, tweeted on Thursday a photo of her grandmother Muftia Tlaib, who lives in the occupied West Bank, and said Israel’s decision to ‘bar her granddaughter’ from visiting was a ‘sign of weakness’
Netanyahu’s initial decision to bar the women from his country came after Donald Trump advised it would show ‘great weakness’ to allow the Democratic members of Congress to obtain entry, claiming they ‘hate Israel & all Jewish people’
‘This woman right here is my sity. She deserves to live in peace & with human dignity. I am who I am because of her. The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. Congresswoman, is a sign of weakness b/c the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening,’ the Michigan Democrat wrote.
Netanyahu’s initial decision to bar the women from his country came after Donald Trump advised it would show ‘great weakness’ to allow the Democratic members of Congress to obtain entry, claiming they ‘hate Israel & all Jewish people.’
Donald Trump had criticized Muslim lawmakers Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib as ‘so anti-Israel, so anti-Jewish’
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the two lawmakers’ visit was designed to ‘hurt’ Israel and banned them from coming
About an hour after Trump tweeted his objection to their visit, the Israeli government announced the two women – the first Muslim women elected to Congress – were banned from visiting in an extraordinary act of intervention on behalf of a U.S. president into the internal affairs of one of America’s allies.
‘The decision has been made; the decision is not to allow them to enter,’ Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told the country’s Reshet Radio.
Netanyahu, in a statement, said the lawmakers’ visit was designed to ‘hurt’ Israel, citing their support of a boycott Israel movement that wants the country to abandon the occupied territories.
‘Their intent is to hurt Israel and increase its unrest against it,’ he said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu statement
No country in the world respects America and the American Congress more than the State of Israel.
As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country. In fact, in the past the US did this to an Israeli member of Knesset, as well as to other public figures from around the world.
Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.
A week ago, Israel warmly welcomed some 70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress, who expressed broad bipartisan support for Israel, which was also demonstrated a month ago in a resounding bipartisan vote against BDS in Congress.
However, the itinerary of the two Congresswomen reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.
In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.
Therefore, the minister of interior has decided not to allow their visit, and I, as prime minister, support his decision.
Nonetheless, if Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the minister of interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.