Tuesday 20 August 2019

Democratic congresswoman allowed to enter West Bank to see grandmother

Rashida Tlaib will be able to enter the Israeli-occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds.

Rashida Tlaib has received approval to go to the West Bank (Paul Sancya/AP)
Rashida Tlaib has received approval to go to the West Bank (Paul Sancya/AP)

By Associated Press Reporters

Israel’s interior minister has approved a request by US Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to enter the Israeli-occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds.

Aryeh Deri said on Friday that Ms Tlaib asked to visit her 90-year-old grandmother.

In a letter published by Mr Deri’s office, Ms Tlaib said she would respect any restrictions and would “not promote boycotts” during her visit.

On Thursday, Israel decided to ban Ms Tlaib and fellow Demoocratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar from visiting the West Bank, arguing that they would promote a boycott campaign against Israel during the trip.

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Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib have been barred from entering Israel (Scott Applewhite/AP)

Israel’s decision sparked widespread criticism, including from Israeli and Jewish organisations who said it was an affront to US institutions to bar the entry of members of Congress.

Their decision came after President Donald Trump said in a tweet it would show “weakness” to allow in the two Democrats who have been sharply critical of him and of Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians.

Ms Tlaib and Ms Omar had planned to visit Jerusalem and several West Bank cities, starting this weekend.

Both are known as supporters of “boycott, divestment and sanctions”, or BDS, a Palestinian-led global movement.

Israel alleges that BDS targets Israel’s very existence, while the movement’s supporters say it is intended as leverage to end more than half a century of Israeli military rule over Palestinians.

In her letter to the Israeli government, Ms Tlaib, who is of Palestinian origin, wrote that this could be her last chance to see her grandmother.

Mr Deri’s office said that he “decided to allow her entry to Israel and hopes she will stand by her commitment and that the visit will be for humanitarian needs only”.

Ms Tlaib’s apparent pledge to conduct the visit in line with restrictions imposed by Israel was bound to anger Palestinians who had hoped the congressional tour would highly their plight.

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