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Israel

In climbdown, Israel allows Tlaib to enter to visit her Palestinian family

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri on Friday said he would allow Democratic congresswoman Rashida Tlaib, whom Israel barred from visiting the country a day earlier along with her colleague Ilhan Omar, to enter Israel on humanitarian grounds.

The decision came hours after Tlaib submitted a letter requesting to be allowed in despite the ban, citing her elderly Palestinian grandmother in the West Bank. The Interior Ministry had said Thursday that it would consider letting Tlaib enter Israel in order to visit her relatives in the West Bank.

“I would like to request admittance to Israel in order to visit my relatives, and specifically my grandmother, who is in her 90s and lives in Beit Ur al-Fouqa,” Tlaib wrote in her letter to Deri. “This could be my last opportunity to see her. I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

A statement from Deri’s office Friday morning said he had decided to allow the congresswoman into the country based on her letter. It said he “expressed hope that she will live up to her promise and that the visit will only be for humanitarian needs.”

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri leads a Shas faction meeting at the Knesset on May 27, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel had announced in July that it would allow Omar and Tlaib to visit — despite a controversial 2017 Israeli law prohibiting any foreigner from entering the country who “knowingly issues a public call for boycotting Israel.”

But on Thursday, shortly after US President Donald Trump tweeted that allowing them to enter would “show great weakness,” Jerusalem reversed that decision, saying it would ban the lawmakers over their support of the Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions movement.

Tlaib on Thursday panned the Israeli government for its decision, saying that preventing her from visiting her grandmother in the West Bank was a “sign of weakness” because “the truth of what is happening to Palestinians is frightening.”

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