U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., speaks to constituents in Wixom, Mich., on Thursday.
Israel’s interior ministry announced Friday that it would grant a visa to Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan to visit Israel and the Israeli-occupied West Bank as a private citizen, reversing an earlier decision to bar her amid pressure from President Trump.
The about-face on Tlaib, a Palestinian-America who plans to visit relatives in the West Bank, came hours after Israel banned her and fellow Muslim Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., apparently in response pressure from Trump, who tweeted that the two hated “Israel & all Jewish people” and that Israel “would show great weakness” by letting them visit.
It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit. They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds. Minnesota and Michigan will have a hard time putting them back in office. They are a disgrace!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 15, 2019
On Friday, however, Israel’s interior ministry said Minister Aryeh Deri had decided to allow Tlaib to conduct a “humanitarian visit” to her 90-year-old grandmother. According to the statement, Tlaib sent a letter to Deri accepting conditions and limits on her visit and promising not to advance boycotts against Israel while she is there.
There was no word on whether Israel had changed its position on Omar, a Somali-born American. She had been scheduled to arrive on Saturday in Israel, where she and Tlaib planned to tour the West Bank and visit the contested Al Aqsa Mosque in East Jerusalem.
Tlaib and Omar were to have traveled under the auspices of the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue & Democracy, or MIFTAH, a Ramallah-based non-governmental organization promoting an independent Palestinian state.
Earlier, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely said Tlaib and Omar would not be allowed to visit because of their support for a boycott of Israel.
The move elicited a strong backlash from individuals in both parties. Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the move “deeply disappointing.” Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio tweeted that while he disagreed “100% with Rep. Tlaib & Omar on #Israel” denying them entry to Israel “is a mistake.”
Even AIPAC, the powerful pro-Israel lobby group, tweeted that “every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.”
We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution. We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.
— AIPAC (@AIPAC) August 15, 2019