Israel to allow U.S. lawmaker Rashida Tlaib to visit family in West Bank
Israel will allow U.S. lawmaker Rashida Tlaib to visit her family in the occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds, the Interior Ministry said Friday after barring an official visit under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said Thursday he would not allow two Democrats, Tlaib, of Michigan, and fellow Congress member Ilhan Omar, of Minnesota, to make a planned trip to Israel.
The ban sparked widespread criticism, including from Israeli and Jewish organizations that said it was an affront to U.S. institutions to bar the entry of members of Congress.
Tlaib and Omar have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement over Israel's policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Under Israeli law, BDS backers can be denied entry to Israel.
However, Netanyahu said that if Tlaib submitted a request to visit family on humanitarian grounds, Israel would consider it as long as she promised not to promote a boycott against Israel.
Tlaib sent a letter to Israel's Ministry of Interior on Thursday requesting permission "to visit relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s," adding it "could be my last opportunity to see her."
"I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit," Tlaib wrote in the request, which was circulated by the Ynet website and other Israeli media.
Israel's Interior Ministry said in a statement it "decided on Friday to approve the entry of U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib for a humanitarian visit to her 90-year-old grandmother."
It also said it had hoped Tlaib,"will stand by her commitment and that the visit will be for humanitarian needs only."