Israel grants request by Rep. Tlaib to visit grandmother in West Bank

Israel has granted permission for Rep. Rashida Tlaib, a Michigan Democrat and the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, to visit her grandmother in the West Bank.

The decision comes the day after Israel said it was barring Tlaib and fellow Democratic Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from visiting Israel and accused them of attempting to “boycott and negate Israel’s legitimacy.”

On Thursday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu backed the Interior Minister Aryeh Deri’s decision to block the lawmakers visit but said if Tlaib filed a “humanitarian request” to meet her family members, the interior minister would consider the request.

“Only a few days ago, we received their visitation plan, and it became clear that they were planning a campaign whose sole purpose was to strengthen the boycott and negate Israel’s legitimacy,” Netanyahu said, referring to the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions movement, known as BDS.

Omar and Tlaib have previously voiced their support for BDS and under Israeli law, supporters of the movement can be denied entry to Israel.

Netanyahu said at the time that the interior minister would consider a “humanitarian request” on the condition that Tlaib committed to not promote the boycotts against Israel.

Muftia Tlaib, Rashida Tlaib’s grandmother, walk with her son Bassam outside their home in the village of Beit Ur al-Fauqa in the occupied West Bank.Abbas Momani / AFP – Getty Images

Democratic lawmakers slammed Israel’s decision Thursday warning that it could damage the U.S.-Israel relationship. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the decision “a sad reversal” and “deeply disappointing.”

It also sent shock waves throughout Israel and the Palestinian territories with many decrying the move.

Hanan Ashrawi, a veteran Palestinian politician, called it an “outrageous act of hostility against the American people.”

“This is a dangerous precedent that defies all diplomatic norms and an assault on the Palestinian people’s right to engage with the rest of the world,” she said in a statement.

Israeli lawyer Daniel Seidemann, who focuses on the conflict in Jerusalem and was due to meet with the congresswomen during their trip, said these were “dark days in Israel and in the U.S.”

“The stark realities of occupation will not disappear through bans and bullying,” he tweeted.

Israel’s Minister of Public Security and Strategic Affairs tweeted Friday that barring the entry of the congresswomen to Israel was “just and proper” but that Tlaib’s request to visit her grandmother “must be approved.”

“Mainly in light of her commitment to respect Israeli law and not to promote boycotts against us,” he said.

Yaakov Katz, the editor of the English-language newspaper The Jerusalem Post, criticized the decision to bar the lawmakers arguing that it was “cause damage for years to come.”

“The county should let them in. It has nothing to hide,” he tweeted.

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