Tlaib cancels Israel visit after being treated like a ‘criminal’

A day after Israel denied permission to two US Muslim lawmakers sparking outrage among Democrats, it allowed one of them, Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan, Palestinian-American), above, to visit her family in the West Bank, reports say.

However, moments later, Tlaib tweeted she would not visit Israel which tried to silence her and treated her like a criminal.

She wrote that visiting her ageing grandmother under such oppressive conditions stands against everything she believes in as she continues her fight against racism, oppression and injustice.

Israel reversed its decision on Tlaib on humanitarian grounds hours after she wrote a letter to Interior Minister Aryeh Deri assuring him she will not discuss politics during her visit.

In the letter, she said this could be her last opportunity to see her ageing grandmother who lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa.

However, her colleague, Ilhan Omar (D-Minnesota of Somali origin), will not allowed to enter the country.

Omar and Tlaib are critics of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians and they support the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against the Jewish state.

BDS wants to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories by boycotting Israeli companies and goods.

Democrats had called the ban on the proposed visit of Omar and Tlaib “undemocratic” while condemning it.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, however, defended it, saying the two representatives were planning to use their visit to further incite Palestinians against Israelis.

In a statement, Omar said Netanyahu is implementing US President Donald Trump’s ‘Muslim ban’ under pressure.

Netanyahu has always resisted peace efforts, restricted movement of Palestinians, hidden unpleasant truths about ‘Israeli occupation’ and aligned himself with Islamophobes, she said.

Democratic senator Chuck Schumer warned that the ban would affect US-Israeli ties. It is also a sign of weakness as no democratic society would run away from an open debate.

Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi viewed the entry ban as an act of hostility by Israel against the American people and their representatives.

Netanyahu said Israeli law prohibits the entry of people who call for boycott of Israeli goods.

But he hinted at granting the visit to Tlaib to meet her family if she does not discuss the boycott movement with Palestinians there.

Deputy Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely told a broadcaster her country would not let in those who deny the right Israelis to exist in this world.

David Friedman, US ambassador to Israel, said the planned trip by Tlaib and Omar was only to promote the BDS movement and destroy the Jewish state.

An hour before Israel announced the ban, Trump tweeted nothing can change the minds of Tlaib and Omar as they hate Israel and all Jewish people.

Last month, Democrats condemned Trump’s ‘racist’ tweets against four congresswomen of colour, including Tlaib and Omar, in which he told them they can go back to the countries they came from if they are not happy to continue living in the US.

In February this year, Omar had to apologise over her comments that Israeli money is controlling US lawmakers.