Tlaib granted permission to visit family but refused, citing 'oppression'

President Trump: ""the only real winner here is Tlaib's grandmother: She doesn't have to see her now!"

Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) shares a fist bump with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) (photo credit: REUTERS/JIM BOURG)
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) shares a fist bump with Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI)
(photo credit: REUTERS/JIM BOURG)
WASHINGTON - After a 24 hours saga, Rep. Rashida Tlaib announced Friday that she would not travel to Israel. The Congresswoman from the radical wing of the Democratic Party had been allowed to visit by Interior Minister Arye Deri, after she sent him a letter asking to visit  for humanitarian reasons.
Another congresswoman, Ilhan Omar, was banned from entering Israel on Thursday and did not get permission from Deri since she does not have family living in the Palestinian territories.
“I would like to request admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa,” Tlaib wrote in the letter, which became public on Friday morning. “This could be my last opportunity to see her,” the Congresswoman added. “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”
The ministry issued a statement saying that Deri hopes Tlaib would honor her obligation not to promote boycott activity while on her trip, and that the visit would be humanitarian.
Tlaib was expected to visit her family between August 18 and August 24, after an overnight negotiation between the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Foreign Affairs and Interior ministries.
However, a few hours after Deri’s announcement and after signing a letter promising to “respect any restrictions,” Tlaib changed her mind and tweeted that she won’t visit the West Bank after all, citing “oppressive conditions.”
“When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions,” she tweeted. “I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me and use my love for my [family] to bow down to their oppressive and racist policies.”

In response, Deri tweeted: "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request, aimed at bashing the State of Israel. Apparently, her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother."

US President, Donald Trump, slammed the Congresswoman and tweeted that "the only real winner here is Tlaib's grandmother. She doesn't have to see her now!"

"[She] wrote a letter to Israeli officials desperately wanting to visit her grandmother. Permission was quickly granted, whereupon Tlaib obnoxiously turned the approval down, a complete setup," the president added.

Channel 12 reported Friday night that the original permission to enter the country issued to the two Congresswomen by Israel's Ambassador in Washington Ron Dermer was announced without consultation with the Foreign Affairs Ministry in Jerusalem. The embassy spokesperson declined to comment on the report.

Omar posted a long thread on Twitter Friday, outlining the original schedule for the trip. According to Omar, "I planned to hold meetings with members of the Knesset (both Jewish and Arab) along with Israeli security officials. The claims of the Israeli Prime Minister otherwise are not true. As a delegation, we were also scheduling a meeting with Ambassador David Friedman."

She added that the delegation was also set to receive a briefing from UN officials about the effect of humanitarian aid cuts on Palestinians, as well as a video conference with youth from Gaza. Later, she said, the delegation was set to visit Hebron as part of a tour of "Breaking the Silence," and to visit Bethlehem and East Jerusalem as well.
"We give Israel more than $3 billion in aid every year," she continued. "This is predicated on their being an important ally in the region and the 'only democracy' in the Middle East.

"Denying visits to duly elected Members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy," Omar added. "We should be leveraging that aid to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians."

Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Bernie Sanders echoed a similar message. "If Israel doesn't want members of the United States Congress to visit their country, maybe they can respectfully decline the billions of dollars that we give to Israel," he tweeted Friday.