Tlaib rejects Israel's terms for her visit
Washington - Tlaib, in her tweets, did not outline what the conditions imposed on her visit were.
US congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Friday rejected an offer by Israel to let her travel to the West Bank, saying she would not visit her family there because the Israeli government had imposed "oppressive conditions" to humiliate her.
Tlaib, a Democrat in the US House of Representatives who has been critical of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, had planned to make an official visit to Israel along with fellow Democrat congresswoman Ilhan Omar from Minnesota.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, under pressure from Republican US President Donald Trump, on Thursday said he would not allow the pair to make a planned trip to Israel. On Friday, Israel decided to allow Tlaib to visit family in the Israel-occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds.
But the Michigan congresswoman rejected the offer.
"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," Tlaib tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother.
"Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she 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," she added. Israel's Interior Ministry said it had received a letter from Tlaib on Thursday seeking permission to visit her family, and granted her request.
Tlaib, in her tweets, did not outline what the conditions imposed on her visit were. Israeli media, however, reported that she had agreed not to promote boycotts against Israel as part of her request to Israel's Foreign Ministry.
Tlaib and Omar have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which opposes the Israeli occupation and policies towards Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. Under Israeli law, BDS backers can be denied entry to Israel.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who had approved Tlaib's visit request, blasted her decision not to come. "It turns out that it was a provocation to embarrass Israel. Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother," he wrote on Twitter.
The initial ban sparked an outcry among Democrats in the US Congress, who have largely been strong supporters of Israel. Both US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and US Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer called on Israel to reverse the ban. Palestinians also decried the ban.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a powerful lobbying group, had also said while it did not support the two congresswomen's views, that they should be allowed to visit.
Tlaib and Omar are the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress, and the Detroit-born Tlaib is also the first Palestinian-American congresswoman. Both are members of their party's progressive wing and sharp critics of Trump and Israeli policy.
Their official visit was to have included visits to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, territories.