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US lawmaker desists from plans to visit Israel

Saturday - August 17, 2019 2:24 am , Category : WORLD
Washington, Aug 17 (IANS) Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American member of the United States House of Representatives who had received permission from Israel to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the occupied West Bank, on condition that she would not promote boycotts of the Jewish state during her trip, said she has desisted from her travel plans.
"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," Rashida Tlaib wrote on Twitter on Friday, Efe news reported.
A daughter of Palestinian Muslim immigrants, the 43-year-old Tlaib had planned to travel to Israel this weekend along with another Democratic member of the US lower house, Ilhan Omar, a female Somali immigrant who also is Muslim and, like Tlaib, is a supporter of a global movement known as BDS that calls for boycotts, divestment and sanctions against Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's administration had initially authorized the entry of the two lawmakers.
But Israel reversed course shortly after US President Donald Trump tweeted on Thursday that that country would be showing "great weakness" if it allowed Omar and 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!"
"The decision was made after (Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri) became convinced that (the visit) was part of boycott activism against Israel," the Interior Ministry said in a statement.
The statement added that the two US lawmakers were taking advantage of their visibility to support BDS organizations.
Israel's decision was based on a 2017 law that allows the country to deny entry to supporters of the BDS movement.
On Friday, however, Israel announced that it had approved Tlaib's proposed visit on humanitarian grounds after the congresswoman had agreed to Israel's conditions.
"Tlaib sent a letter last night to Minister Deri, 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," the Interior Ministry said in a statement published on the Web site of Israeli newspaper Haaretz.
The US lawmaker, who had received criticism from BDS supporters for agreeing to Israel's conditions, then reversed course herself, explaining her decision on Twitter.
"When I won (election to Congress), it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions" they live in, she wrote.
"I can't allow the State of Israel to take away that light by humiliating me & use my love for my sity (grandmother) to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies."

--IANS rt/