Israel grants Rashida Tlaib West Bank visit on humanitarian grounds

N.J. Democrat who rebuked Omar now blasts Israel for banning her visit

Israel bars entry to outspoken US congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar

Deri's decision came after Tlaib sent a letter to the Israeli government. It will last most of the next week, but assuming Tlaib keeps her word, the visit will have a considerably lower profile than the one planned earlier by Tlaib and Omar.

Minister Aryeh Deri expressed hopes that Tlaib would "stand by her commitment and that the visit will be for humanitarian needs only".

Following the decision to bar the two congresswomen from entering Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday that "congresswomen Tlaib and Omar are leading activities to promote boycott legislation against Israel in the U.S. Congress".

"It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep Omar and Rep Tlaib to visit", Trump wrote on Twitter. They're not going to allow people to come to Israel and agitate for its destruction, even if they manage to win an election in a congressional district.

Trump's request appeared to contravene a U.S. government policy that says the United States seeks "equal treatment and freedom to travel" for all USA citizens regardless of ethnicity. The country passed a law permitting a ban on entry to any activist who "knowingly issues a call for boycotting Israel".

Tlaib's apparent pledge to conduct the visit in line with restrictions imposed by Israel was bound to anger Palestinians who had hoped the congressional tour, organised by a Palestinian group, would highlight their plight.

The US ambassador to Israel said in a statement that the US "supports and respects the decision of the Government of Israel to deny entry".

The goal of the measure is to battle the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which protests Israeli treatment of the Palestinians and has found growing support in Europe and the United States in recent years.

In a statement on Thursday, Mr Netanyahu said "there is no country in the world that respects the U.S. and the American Congress more than Israel".

Former US diplomat Aaron David Miller, who served in both Democratic and Republican administrations, argued that the move would hurt Israel's standing as a bipartisan cause in Washington, while eroding its status in the global community.

Marshall, a journalist who is Jewish-American, argued on the Fox News Outnumbered panel that Israel, where she personally lived back in 1996, should have allowed Tlaib and Omar to enter the country, despite their criticism of its policies toward Palestinians.

"Banning members of Congress from visiting Israel, where they can see facts on the ground with their own eyes, is counterproductive and plays into President Trump's goal of politicizing support for Israel", she said.

Netanyahu said the congresswomen's itinerary showed their "sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel's legitimacy".

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu alleged their itinerary showed they meant to seek to strengthen the boycott against Israel. The Interior Ministry released a letter purportedly signed by Tlaib in which she promised not to advocate boycotts during her visit.

Interior Minister Ayre Deri subsequently granted her request, but Tlaib swiftly turned it down.

She added: "This is not a surprise given the public positions of Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has consistently resisted peace efforts, restricted the freedom of movement of Palestinians, limited public knowledge of the brutal realities of the occupation and aligned himself with Islamophobes like Donald Trump".

"It is unfair and racist that they banned her from visiting her country Palestine and her family in Palestine", said her uncle, Bassam Tlaib. Israel controls entry and exit points to the West Bank, which it seized in the 1967 Mideast war along with east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, territories the Palestinians want for a future state.

"Israel properly has enacted laws to bar entry of BDS activists under the circumstances present here, and it has every right to protect its borders against those activists in the same manner as it would bar entrants with more conventional weapons", Freidman said.

The Israeli government stirred significant controversy on Thursday with a decision to bar entry for two Muslim U.S. lawmakers - a move hailed by President Donald Trump and reviled by top Democrats and advocacy groups.

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