World, Middle East

Israel allows US lawmaker to visit family in West Bank

Rashida Tlaib's request approved after she pledged to respect restrictions by Israel

Abdelraouf Arnaout, Mahmoud Barakat   | 16.08.2019
 Israel allows US lawmaker to visit family in West Bank

JERUSALEM

Israel on Friday approved a U.S. lawmaker’s request to visit family in the occupied West Bank.

"Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided on Friday to approve the request of U.S. Congresswoman Rachida Tlaib for a humanitarian visit to her 90-year-old grandmother," his office said in a statement.

The approval comes after a pledge by Tlaib to "respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel" during her visit.

Tlaib, however, later Friday said her personal beliefs would not allow her to bow to Israel’s demands.

"Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. 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," she said in a tweet.

"When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. I can't allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity [grandmother] to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies."

Israel on Thursday opted to block Tlaib and another U.S. Congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, from visiting the country and the occupied West Bank, sparking widespread condemnation from many.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his government was blocking the congresswomen visits due to their support for an international boycott movement of Israel.

Tlaib and Omar have been vocal proponents of the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement which seeks to ramp up economic pressure on Israel for its treatment of Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories, and its continued construction of settlements in the West Bank which are illegal under international law.

* Umar Farooq contributed to this report from Washington

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