Friday, 20 Sep 2019 - 20 of Elul, 5779

U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib gets ok to visit her grandmother on humanitarian grounds but decides against it, Netanyahu: Israel is open to critics not boycotts

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’Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.’’

JERUSALEM—After being barred from entering Israel on Thursday, U.S. House of Representatives Member Rashida Tlaib submitted a humanitarian request to visit her grandmother in the West Bank, and Israel’s interior minister approved it on humanitarian grounds.

But Tlaib, a Democratic Representative from Michigan, changed her mind Friday morning, saying that in the end she could not enter Israel “under these oppressive conditions.”

“Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me,” the Michigan Democrat tweeted. “It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in — fighting against racism, oppression & injustice,”

Tlaib and fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., were barred from making a planned visit to Israel on Sunday because of their declared support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against the State of Israel.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to apply his country’s 2017 law, which bans foreigners who publicly support Israel boycotts, to the two congresswomen.

He stated : ‘’As a free and vibrant democracy, Israel is open to critics and criticism, with one exception: Israeli law prohibits the entry into Israel of those who call for and work to impose boycotts on Israel, as do other democracies that prohibit the entry of people who seek to harm the country. In fact, in the past the US did this to an Israeli member of Knesset, as well as to other public figures from around the world.’’

He added : ‘’Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activists in promoting the legislation of boycotts against Israel in the American Congress. Only a few days ago, we received their itinerary for their visit in Israel, which revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy. For instance: they listed the destination of their trip as Palestine and not Israel, and unlike all Democratic and Republican members of Congress who have visited Israel, they did not request to meet any Israeli officials, either from the government or the opposition.’’

‘’A week ago, Israel warmly welcomed some 70 Democratic and Republican members of Congress, who expressed broad bipartisan support for Israel, which was also demonstrated a month ago in a resounding bipartisan vote against BDS in Congress,’’ Netanyahu said, adding that ‘’ the itinerary of the two Congresswomen reveals that the sole purpose of their visit is to harm Israel and increase incitement against it.’’

‘’In addition, the organization that is funding their trip is Miftah, which is an avid supporter of BDS, and among whose members are those who have expressed support for terrorism against Israel.’’

Netanyahu said however that ‘’if Congresswoman Tlaib submits a humanitarian request to visit her relatives, the minister of interior has announced that he will consider her request on the condition that she pledges not to act to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit.”

Israel still allows humanitarian requests as exceptions to the law. In her request submitted Thursday, Tlaib had asked to visit the West Bank to see her grandmother, who is in her 90s, saying it could be her “last opportunity to see her.”

She promised not to promote the boycott movement against Israel while there.

“I will respect any restrictions and will not promote any boycotts against Israel during my visit,” she wrote.

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