Israel Says Rashida Tlaib Can Visit to See Her Grandmother – The New York Times

Israel Says Rashida Tlaib Can Visit to See Her Grandmother – The New York Times

Erin Schaff/The New York Times

JERUSALEM — A day after barring Representative Rashida Tlaib under pressure from President Trump, Israel said on Friday that she could visit her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in the occupied West Bank, but only after she agreed in writing not to “promote boycotts against Israel” during her trip.

The announcement appeared to be a second shift in position by the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Israeli Interior Ministry initially approved a planned visit by Ms. Tlaib, of Michigan, and another Democratic lawmaker, Representative Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. But after a public objection by President Trump, it blocked them, citing their support for the anti-Israel Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

Ms. Tlaib wrote to the Israeli interior minister, Aryeh Deri, late Thursday, appealing to be allowed to see her relatives, particularly her 90-year-old grandmother, who lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa, a Palestinian village west of Ramallah.

“This could be my last opportunity to see her,” Ms. Tlaib wrote on congressional letterhead. “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

“In light of that,” Mr. Deri’s office said on Friday, the minister decided to allow her into Israel and “expressed hope that she would keep her commitment and that the visit would truly be solely for humanitarian purposes.”

Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar, along with Stacey Plaskett, the nonvoting congressional representative of the United States Virgin Islands, had planned a four-day fact-finding tour to examine the condition of Palestinians under Israel occupation. The three women, all Democrats, had intended to focus on the effects of a number of policy moves by the Trump administration, including aid cuts to East Jerusalem hospitals and Palestinian refugees, and the move of the United States embassy to Jerusalem.

Though Israel’s ambassador in Washington, Ron Dermer, said in July that Israel would not bar any member of Congress, the news site Axios reported last week that Mr. Trump had privately lobbied Mr. Netanyahu to bar Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar. An Israeli official said a call came from the Trump administration as late as this week pressing Mr. Netanyahu to do so.

Then, Thursday morning, Mr. Trump said on Twitter that Israel’s admitting the two Democratic congresswomen “would show great weakness.”

Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are vocal critics of the president. Mr. Trump has vilified them, seeking to portray them as the new face of the Democratic Party.

The pressure from the White House forced Mr. Netanyahu to choose between ignoring Mr. Trump or angering Democratic leaders in Congress, who urged him to allow the visit to take place despite their differences with Ms. Tlaib and Ms. Omar on policy toward Israel.

When he finally explained his decision, Mr. Netanyahu argued that the trip itinerary was one-sided and that its “sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy.”

But in announcing the ban on their official trip under a law that allows Israel to bar those who take a leading role in advancing boycotts of the country, Mr. Deri, the interior minister, also left open the door to admitting Ms. Tlaib for a personal visit. If her request “for humanitarian reasons is submitted for a private meeting with her family, subject to the appropriate obligations, he will consider it,” his office said on Thursday.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.