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Rep. Rashida Tlaib says she won’t visit Israel, despite permission

Rep. Rashida Tlaib said she would not visit Israel after the country granted permission for her to enter the country on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the West Bank a day after blocking her and fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar from visiting the country. Source: Paul Sancya/AP. (via CNN)

(CNN) — Rep. Rashida Tlaib said Friday she would not visit Israel after the country granted permission for her to enter the country on humanitarian grounds to visit her family in the West Bank a day after blocking her and fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar from visiting the country.

“I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in–fighting against racism, oppression & injustice,” Tlaib said in a tweet. In a statement released shortly after her tweet, she said she has “decided not to travel” to the country.

Tlaib had asked Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri for access so that she could visit her relatives, “and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa. This could be my last opportunity to see her.”

The request from Tlaib of Michigan came a day after the country barred her and Omar, a freshman Democrat from Minnesota, from entering because of their support of a boycott against Israel. Israel’s decision to bar their entry was encouraged by President Donald Trump in a remarkable step both by the US President and his ally, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to punish political opponents.

Deri announced Friday in a statement that Tlaib would be allowed to visit after she, in a letter requesting permission to enter the country on humanitarian grounds, “committed to accept all the demands of Israel to respect the restrictions imposed on her in the visit, and she also promised not to advance boycotts against Israel during her visit.”

In response to Tlaib’s announcement that she would not visit the country, Deri said Tlaib’s “hatred of Israel is stronger than her love of her grandmother” and accused Tlaib of requesting to visit her family as “a provocation in order to besmirch Israel.”

Trump echoed that criticism of Tlaib in a series of tweets Friday evening.

“Israel was very respectful & nice to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her ‘grandmother,'” Trump wrote, adding quotations around the word grandmother. “As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded & loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel.”

“Could this possibly have been a setup?,” Trump continued. “Israel acted appropriately!”

He later added, “Rep. Tlaib wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup. The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!”

Tlaib’s family in the West Bank slammed Israel over the “conditional visit” and insisted that it is a “natural right” to be able to visit relatives.

“We reject the decision of the Israeli occupation to ban the entry of Congresswomen Rashida Tlaib. This highlights how Israel antagonizes every individual or organization that support the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and rejects every attempt at explaining the reality of the Palestinian life under occupation,” Tlaib’s grandmother, Muftiya Tliab, and her uncle, Ghassan Tlaib, said in a statement to CNN.

The family statement continued, “It should be her natural right, not a favor to ask for, to visit her homeland and family.”

Tlaib’s relatives said they had wanted her to be able to visit as part of a delegation which was to include Omar, and are incensed by the restrictions being put on her visit.

Some of Tlaib’s family members even urged her not to make the trip under Israel’s restrictions, and only to come if it’s an official visit as an American congresswoman. Tlaib’s uncle suggested he could bring Tlaib’s grandmother to visit in the United States so the two could meet.

On Friday afternoon, Omar sent a series of tweets outlining what would have been her plans once she was in Israel and her issues with the Israeli government.

“Denying visits to duly elected Members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy,” Omar said in one tweet, referencing the “$3 billion in aid every year” the US provides to Israel. “We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians.”

The boycott

Tlaib and Omar have been vocal critics of Israel and have supported the boycott movement, formally known as the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions (BDS) movement, voting against a House resolution condemning the movement, which received broad bipartisan support.

The boycott movement aims to end international support for Israel because of its policies toward Palestinians, as well as its continued construction of West Bank settlements, considered a violation of international law.

Strategic Affairs Minister Gilad Erdan, who leads Israel’s fight against the boycott movement, tweeted Friday morning, “The request from Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to visit her grandmother should be approved. Especially in light of her commitment to abide by Israeli law and not advance boycotts against us.”

Erdan is one of the members of the forum who met on Wednesday to discuss whether to allow Tlaib and Omar to enter the country.

Ban came after Trump intervention

The announcement Thursday to prohibit the congresswomen from visiting Israel came shortly after Trump said Israel would be showing “great weakness” by letting them in.

Trump has criticized the two lawmakers — who are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress — in harsh and sometimes racist terms. But his move to call for their ban in Israel reflects a new chapter in his grudge and a further erosion of presidential norms, which in the past sought to avoid instilling partisanship in foreign affairs.

Trump’s comments left Israel with little wiggle room, especially for Netanyahu, who has never publicly disagreed with Trump.

“The plan of the two Congresswomen is only to damage Israel and to foment against Israel,” Netanyahu said in a statement following the decision.

Omar responded to the decision Thursday slamming it as “an insult to democratic values.”

“It is an affront that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under pressure from President Trump, would deny entry to representatives of the U.S. government,” Omar said in a statement. “Trump’s Muslim ban is what Israel is implementing, this time against two duly elected Members of Congress.”

Omar went on to say, “As a member of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, it is my job to conduct oversight of foreign aid from the United States of America and to legislate on human rights practices around the world. 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’s decision to deny entry to the two freshmen congresswomen was a turnaround of a position taken last month when the country’s Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said the pair would be permitted to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories.

This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.

™ & © 2019 Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company. All rights reserved.

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  • lml25

    Tlaib and the media(CNN in this case)are trying to dictate the narrative of this totally invented faux story.Tlaib LOVES publicity,so do Omar,AOC and Pressley.They
    want/receive lots of media coverage to be able to attack Trump. They all work together–these women are complicit with MSM. I ignore them 100 % of the time –except for laughs.

  • BS

    Talib is a democrat – pathological liars who would sacrifice their family members at the drop of a hat so they could shove their agenda down Americas throat. Democrats stopped representing their American constituents over a decade ago so they could fight for Illegal Aliens, MS-13 members, Mexican Cartel traffickers and the rest of the world.

  • Coach James

    Israel granted her permission to see her grandmother on the west Bank, but this selfish women has thrown her own grandmother under the bus, when she refused to travel just to see her grandmother since she was not granted entry into Israel, sorry you can’t have it both ways!
    And she is pretty good with crocodile tears, eh, but what liberal news is going to inform her grandmother that the visit was granted and then refused by her own granddaughter as she is playing the victim of her own politics…

  • steve

    This whole damn episode was a ruse from day one. She never had any intention of going to visit her grandmother. It was a lie from the beginning, but she’s a typical, modern day Democrat and anybody of normal intelligence could see through it immediately.

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