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Tlaib rejects invite to West Bank over ‘oppressive conditions’

Updated August 16, 2019 - 7:02 am

Tlaid rejects invite to West Bank over ‘oppressive conditions’

JERUSALEM — Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib says she won’t visit her relatives in the West Bank after Israel issued a permit on humanitarian grounds, citing “oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me.”

Israel barred Tlaib and another congresswoman from visiting Jerusalem and the West Bank over their support for the international boycott movement, but said Tlaib could visit her relatives in the West Bank on humanitarian grounds. The Interior Ministry released a letter purportedly signed by Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit.

In an official statement released later Friday, Tlaib said “visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart.”

Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, added that “silencing me with treatment to make me feel less-than is not what she wants for me – it would kill a piece of me that always stands up against racism and injustice.”

Earlier, Tlaib says she will not let down the Palestinian people by remaining silent about their condition on a visit to the West Bank.

That’s the case despite a letter she submitted earlier to the Israeli government in which she promised to respect any restrictions imposed on her visit to the West Bank.

Tlaib tweeted Friday: “Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what (my grandmother) wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in—fighting against racism, oppression & injustice.”

The Israeli interior minister had said that he received and granted a request by the Palestinian-American lawmaker to visit her relatives, including her 90-year-old grandparent in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories.

Minister Aryeh Deri expressed hopes that Tlaib would “stand by her commitment and that the visit will be for humanitarian needs only.”

Deri’s office published what it said was Tlaib’s written request, on congressional stationary. In the letter, Tlaib said she would respect any restrictions and “not promote boycotts” during her visit.

Another reversal

The minister’s decision marked yet another reversal concerning the high-profile West Bank tour that had been planned by Tlaib and fellow Democrat, Rep. Ilhan Omar.

On Thursday, Israel had announced it was barring the two from entry — an unprecedented move targeting members of the U.S. Congress. Israel’s decision came after President Donald Trump said in a tweet it would show “weakness” to allow in the two Democrats who have been sharply critical of him and of Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians.

Tlaib and Omar had planned to visit Jerusalem and several West Bank cities, starting this weekend. Both are known as supporters of “boycott, divestment and sanctions,” or BDS, a Palestinian-led global movement. Israel alleges that BDS targets Israel’s very existence, while the movement’s supporters say it is intended as leverage to end more than half a century of Israeli military rule over Palestinians.

Israel’s decision to ban the two had sparked widespread criticism, including from Israeli and Jewish organization who said it was an affront to U.S. institutions to bar the entry of members of Congress.

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