Israel approves U.S. congresswoman’s entry on family visit

Israel on Friday approved a request by U.S. congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to enter the country for a family visit after her entry was banned one day before.

According to Israel’s Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, the Democratic congresswoman was granted an approval to enter the country for a humanitarian visit to her 90-year-old grandmother.

Tlaib said a supporter of the Palestinian-led BDS (boycotts, divestments, and sanctions against Israel movement), promised not to promote boycotts during her visit.

Earlier, the Israeli news site Ynet published a copy of a letter Tlaib had sent to Deri, requesting entry to visit her Palestinian family in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.

“I will like to request admittance to Israel to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa,

“This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit,” she said.

U.S. congresswoman Rashida Tlaib

Deri said he has decided to ban Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, another newly-elected U.S. congresswoman known for her criticism of the Israeli treatment of the Palestinians, from entering Israel.

However, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said that the decision was made following joint consultations, while expressing his support to the move.

The announcement came less than an hour after U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted that it would show great weakness if Israel allowed the two Democratic lawmakers to visit.

“They hate Israel and all Jewish people, and there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds,“ Trump said.

Trump also called the two congresswomen a disgrace.

Meanwhile, the move had already triggered criticism by lawmakers in the U.S., Europe, and Israel.

The U.S. House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, also called the move a sign of weakness and beneath the dignity of Israel.

Israeli lawmaker, Ayman Odeh, leader of the Arab-Jewish Joint List party, however, criticised the Israeli ban as another desperate attempt to hide the reality from the world.

Odeh said that a country with nothing to hide would not have banned the entrance of two members of the U.S. Congress.

Israel seized the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Middle East war and has kept its control over these regions ever since, in spite international criticism.

Meanwhile, the Palestinians wished to build their future state along the 1967 pre-war border with East Jerusalem as its capital.

The BDS is a movement led by Palestinian non-governmental organisations to put pressure on Israel to end the occupation. Israel perceived the movement as anti-Semitism and a threat.

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