Politics

Rep. Rashida Tlaib rejects Israel's offer to let her visit West Bank — 'it would kill a piece of me'

Key Points
  • Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib has rejected Israel's decision allowing her to enter the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds.
  • "Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in—fighting against racism, oppression & injustice," she says.
  • Israel's interior minister said earlier that Tlaib asked to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the West Bank, and that he granted that request.
Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib delivers remarks at the National Association of the Advancement for Colored People's convention in Detroit, Michigan, July 22, 2019.
Rebecca Cook | Reuters

Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib on Friday rejected Israel's decision to allow her to enter the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds.

Israel's interior minister, Aryeh Deri, said earlier Friday that Tlaib asked to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the West Bank, and that he granted that request.

That move marked a reversal from a day earlier, when Israel had announced that it would not allow Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., to visit the West Bank, citing their support of a movement to boycott Israel in response to its treatment of Palestinians.

But Tlaib, a progressive freshman lawmaker from Michigan, said in tweets Friday that "visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in—fighting against racism, oppression & injustice."

"It would kill a piece of me," she said.

In a subsequent statement, Tlaib said "the denial of entry of a congressional delegation is not only about Congresswoman Omar and I, but also about the deep-rooted racism within Israel that is taking us further away from peace. The Israeli and Palestinian people need us to be more courageous and to be honest brokers of peace."

"Being silent and not condemning the human rights violations of the Israeli government is a disservice to all who live there, including my incredibly strong and loving grandmother," she added.

Deri shot back in a fiery tweet, calling her request to visit her grandmother an apparent "provocation to embarrass Israel."

"Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother," Deri said, according to a Google translation of his tweet.

Tlaib, who is Palestinian-American, has defended herself against recent accusations of anti-Semitism levied against her in part for her support of the campaign to boycott Israel.

President Donald Trump slammed Tlaib and Omar on Thursday, claiming they hate "all Jewish people" and suggesting that Israel not allow them in. "It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit," Trump said.

Shortly thereafter, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that Tlaib and Omar would be barred from entry.

"Congressmen Talib and Omar are leading activists in promoting boycott legislation against Israel in the U.S. Congress," said the Israeli leader, a close ally of Trump. An Israeli anti-boycott law passed in 2017 has been used to deny entry to more than a dozen people, The New York Times reported.

The ban was heavily criticized by Democrats, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who urged Israel to reverse its decision.

Some Republicans also took issue with Israel's initial move.

"I disagree 100% with Reps. Tlaib & Omar on #Israel & am the author of the #AntiBDS bill we passed in the Senate," said Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.

"But denying them entry into #Israel is a mistake," Rubio said.

Omar sent a message of support for Tlaib: "Sending you strength and solidarity."

-- The Associated Press contributed to this report.