WASHINGTON/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – U.S. congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Friday rejected an offer by Israel to let her travel to the West Bank, the latest twist in a dispute drawing Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu together against U.S. Democrats ahead of elections in both countries.
Tlaib, a Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives who has been critical of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians, said she would not visit her family there because the Israeli government had imposed “oppressive conditions” to humiliate her.
She had planned to make an official visit to Israel along with fellow Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.
Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, under public pressure from Republican President Trump, on Thursday said he would not allow the pair to make their trip. On Friday, Israel said it would allow Tlaib to visit family in the Israel-occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds.
The Michigan congresswoman rejected the offer, however.
“I can’t allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies,” Tlaib tweeted, using the word sity to refer to her grandmother.
“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 said.
Israel’s Interior Ministry said it had received a letter from Tlaib on Thursday seeking permission to visit her family in the West Bank village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa, and it granted her request.
Tlaib did not outline what the conditions imposed on her visit were. Israeli media reported that she had agreed not to promote boycotts against Israel as part of her request to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
Tlaib and Omar have voiced support for the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which opposes the Israeli occupation and policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. BDS backers can be denied entry to Israel by law.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who approved Tlaib’s visit request, blasted her decision not to come.
“It turns out that it was a provocation to embarrass Israel. Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” he wrote on Twitter.
The initial ban sparked an outcry among Democrats in the U.S. Congress, who have largely been strong supporters of Israel, raising concerns about straining the two nations’ relationship as Netanyahu aligns himself ever more closely with Trump.