Israel has decided to approve a petition by U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib to enter Israel on 'humanitarian grounds' so she may visit her Palestinian grandmother, the Interior Ministry announced Friday, this after it barred her from entering the country due to her support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.
In a letter she sent to Interior Minister Arye Dery, Tlaib wrote that she is requesting approval to visit Israel "in order to visit relatives, especially my grandmother who is in her nineties, and lives in Beit Ur al-Fauqa. This may be my last opportunity to see her."
Dery's bureau released a statement Friday morning saying that Tlaib's request was approved. "Tlaib sent a letter last night to Minister Dery, in which she promised to hold to Israel's requests, respect the limitations put on her for the visit and also affirmed that she would not promote the boycott against Israel during her visit." Dery expressed hope that "she will stand by her obligations and the visit will be for humanitarian means alone."
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Under pressure from U.S. President Donald Trump, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reversed his decision Thursday to let Tlaib and fellow BDS-supporting congresswoman Ilhan Omar into Israel. After the decision was made, the Michigan congresswoman uploaded a picture of her grandmother to Twitter and wrote "The decision by Israel to bar her granddaughter, a U.S. congresswoman, is a sign of weakness because the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening."
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan wrote Friday morning that Tlaib's request must be approved "mainly in light of the need to respect Israeli law and not to advance the boycott against us." Erdan, who does not have the authority to make that decision, did tweet that the decision to ban the two congresswomen from entering Israel was "correct and just" because of their support for the boycott movement.
Netanyahu decided to deny Tlaib and Omar entry to Israel after Trump said that "It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep. Tlaib to visit." The policy reversal was justificed by the claim that their visit intends to "strengthen the boycott and invalidate Israel's legitimacy."
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Last month, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer announced that Tlaib and Omar would be allowed to enter the country: “Out of respect for the U.S. Congress and the great alliance between Israel and America”, his government would not deny entry “to any member of Congress."