Israel has said that it will allow Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib into the country, even after US President Donald Trump publicly urged the Israeli government to bar her.
On Friday morning Israel’s Interior Minister, Aryeh Deri, said he would approve a request Tlaib made to enter on humanitarian grounds though Israel had previously said she would be banned, according to a statement reported by the Washington Post and Reuters.
Tlaib is a Detroit native and her family is from Palestine, where her 90-year-old grandmother lives.
According to The Jerusalem Post, Tlaib referred to her grandmother in her application, saying: “This could be my last opportunity to see her.”
The letter also said: “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote any boycotts against Israel during my visit.”
It is an apparent reversal from the Israeli government position on Thursday, when deputy foreign minister Tzipi Hotovely said that both Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar would be denied entry. One official then told The Washington Post that Tlaib might be able to enter on humanitarian grounds.
Both Tlaib and Omar, who represents a district in Minnesota, have supported the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, which seeks to punish Israel economically for its treatment of the Palestinian people.
They had planned to visit Israel with Miftah, a non-profit organization.
Trump has targeted both Congresswomen over their criticisms of Israeli government policy, branding them as anti-Semitic.
He urged Israel not to allow them into the country in tweets on Thursday: “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!”
His statements were criticized by Democrats and even by the powerful American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which lobbies the US government and advocates for a close relationship between the US and Israel.
AIPAC said it disagrees with Omar and Tlaib’s criticisms of Israel but said: “We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.”
Omar had criticized Israel’s position has undemocratic.
“The irony of the ‘only democracy’ in the Middle East making such a decision is that it is both an insult to democratic values and a chilling response to a visit by government officials from an allied nation,” she said in a statement.
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