Rashida Tlaib, the Democrat congresswoman, said Friday she was rejecting an offer from Israel to visit her Palestinian family because it came with “oppressive conditions” that she not discuss boycotts against Israel.
After Israel barred her and another Muslim congresswoman from entering the country on an official visit, Ms Tlaib initially requested to be allowed in on a humanitarian visit to see her 90-year-old grandmother in the occupied West Bank.
In her letter of request, she promised to “respect any restrictions” and said she would “not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit”. The Israeli government granted her permission to enter on those grounds.
But on Friday morning, Ms Tlaib reversed course and she would no longer be coming. “I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in - fighting against racism, oppression and injustice,” she said.
She added that she would not allow her love for her grandmother to be used as leverage to make her submit to Israel’s “oppressive and racist policies”.
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. https://t.co/z5t5j3qk4H
— Rashida Tlaib (@RashidaTlaib) August 16, 2019
Ms Tlaib posted a photograph of her grandmother on Twitter and said “she deserves to live in peace and with human dignity”.
“The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a US congresswoman, is a sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening,” she wrote.
Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, faced criticism over his decision to bar the congresswomen from traditional allies in Washington, including pro-Israel groups and Republican members of Congress.
Marco Rubio, a staunchly pro-Israel Republican senator, called the move “a mistake”.
Steny Hoyer, a senior Democrat who is close to Mr Netanyahu, called the decision “outrageous” and said Israel had not lived up to assurances given by its ambassador in Washington that the women would be allowed in.