Rep. Rashida Tlaib will not travel to Israel, citing 'oppressive & racist policies'
The Israeli had approved a "humanitarian visit" after initially blocking Tlaib.
Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., will not travel to Israel after all, she announced Friday on Twitter and in a statement, rejecting an earlier approval by the government that would have allowed to come on a "humanitarian visit."
The Michigan congresswoman cited "oppressive & racist policies" for not going to Israeli-occupied West Bank -- and not seeing her grandmother.
"The Israeli government used my love and desire to see my grandmother to silence me and made my ability to do so contingent upon my signing a letter – reflecting just how undemocratic and afraid they are of the truth my trip would reveal about what is happening in the State of Israel and to Palestinians living under occupation with United States support," she said in a statement.
"I have therefore decided to not travel to Palestine and Israel at this time. Visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother's heart," Tlaib's statement continued.
"Silencing me & treating me like a criminal is not what she wants for me. It would kill a piece of me. I have decided that visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions stands against everything I believe in--fighting against racism, oppression & injustice," she added on Twitter.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri responded on Twitter, "Just yesterday [Tlaib] sent me a letter, asking to visit her 90 year old grandmother saying, 'it might be my last chance to meet her.'"
He continued in a second tweet, "I approved her request as a gesture of goodwill on a humanitarian basis, but it was just a provocative request, aimed at bashing the State of Israel. Apparently her hate for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother."
Israel had told Tlaib, as well as fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., on Thursday they would not be allowed to visit the country due to their outspoken support for the "boycott, sanctions and divestment" movement.
Both women are Muslim and vocal supporters of the Palestinians. Israeli officials said they would only be able to visit if willing to pledge they would do so as "humanitarians" and not speak out against Israel.
Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, sent a letter to government officials late Thursday, which was approved Friday, the Israeli Interior Ministry said in a statement.
"Interior Minister Aryeh Deri decided on Friday to approve the entry of US Congresswoman Rashida Talib on a humanitarian visit of her 90-year-old grandmother," the statement reads. "Congresswoman Talib sent a letter to Minister Deri tonight pledging to accept Israel's demands, respecting the restrictions imposed on her during the visit, and promising not to promote boycotts against Israel during her visit. In light of this, and in accordance with his commitment yesterday, Minister Deri decided to allow her entry into Israel and expressed hope that her commitment and visit would indeed be for humanitarian purposes only."
Omar is still banned from visiting.
Omar pushed back on criticism of her and Tlaib's intentions with a long thread on Twitter in which she detailed "what we would have seen," including a list from their apparent itinerary and a list of resources and articles.
"Denying visits to duly elected Members of Congress is not consistent with being either an ally or a democracy. We should be leveraging that aid [money to Israel] to stop the settlements and ensure full rights for Palestinians," she concluded.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Twitter Thursday that Israel is "open to any critic and criticism, with one exception: Israel's law prohibits the entry of people who call and operate to boycott Israel."
President Donald Trump voiced his support for Netanyahu and the ban both in an interview prior to traveling to New Hampshire for a Thursday night rally, and on social media.
"Well, I'm only involved from the standpoint of they are very anti-Jewish and they're very anti-Israel," Trump said before departing New Jersey for New Hampshire. "I think it's disgraceful, the things they said. ... What they've said about Israel and Jewish people is a horrible thing, and they've become the face of the Democrats Party."
"I can't imagine why Israel would let them in," he added.
While he made no mention of Tlaib at the rally, he did briefly criticize Omar.
Tlaib and Omar are both freshmen representatives and the first two Muslim women to be elected to Congress. Grouped with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., and Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., the four has been called the "Squad."
Ironically, the four women became the targets of Trump's racist Twitter attacks last month when he urged them to "go back" to the countries where they came from, although only Omar was born outside the United States.
Tlaib's mother was born in the West Bank city of Ramallah, while her father was born in East Jerusalem. Her parents eventually immigrated to Detroit, where she was born.
ABC News' Jordana Miller, Joe Simonetti and Alexandra Svokos contributed to this report.
US to impose 'crushing' sanctions on Russia 2 years after Ukraine invasion: Officials
- Feb 22, 7:51 PM
ABC News Live
24/7 coverage of breaking news and live events