(AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)

Omar still banned from Israeli visit after Tlaib allowed to visit grandmother

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey backs Omar

August 15, 2019 - 8:19 am

Israel's interior minister says he has received and granted a request by Democratic Rep. Rashida Tlaib to enter the Israeli-occupied West Bank on humanitarian grounds.

Minister Aryeh Deri said in a statement on Friday that Tlaib asked to visit her 90-year-old grandmother in the West Bank.

This comes after Israel announced it woulb block Tlaib and Minnesota 5th District Congresswoman Ilhan Omar from an upcoming congressional visit to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem next week, citing their support of a boycott movement against Israel's treatment of Palestinians. 

Friday's statement did not include Omar.

RELATED: With her 'squad' beside her, Rep. Ilhan Omar renews calls for Trump's impeachment.

Officials had said last week the woman would be allowed to visit, but reversed course Thursday, after President Trump tweeted it "would show great weakness" if Israel received the two Democratic lawmakers.

Omar and Tlaib are Muslim-Americans whom the president has previously said should "go back" to where they came from.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey was not happy with Israel's decision to bar Omar.

"As a Jewish man, I totally disagree with it," said Frey. "I think it's the wrong decison. I feel strongly that you can be a Jew and also say that some of the ways that the Israeli government has handled things are wrong. I think Congresswoman Omar should be able to travel to Israel, see the facts for herself directly."

Omar, who became the first Somali-American elected to Congress, denounced the ban as "an affront" and "an insult to democratic values."

In Israel, Netanyahu said Thursday that his country remains "open to critics and criticism," except for those who advocate boycotts against it.

Tlaib and Omar are known as supporters of "boycott, divestment and sanctions," or BDS, a Palestinian-led global movement. Israel alleges that BDS targets Israel's very existence, while the movement's supporters say it is intended as leverage to end more than half a century of Israeli military rule over Palestinians.

Israel's decision Thursday had been an extraordinary step bringing the longtime U.S. ally into Trump's domestic fight against political rivals at home.

The U.S. president was essentially relying on Israel to retaliate against Tlaib and Omar. The two are part of the "squad" of liberal newcomers — all women of color — whom Trump has labeled the face of the Democratic Party as he runs for re-election. Trump's actions marked a glaring departure from the tradition of American politicians leaving domestic disputes at the water's edge.

For Israel, the willingness to side so pointedly with Trump marks a deeper foray into America's bitterly polarized politics and risks its relationship with Congress.

Israel announced the ban Thursday after Trump tweeted that "it would show great weakness" if the two were allowed to visit. Asked later if he had spoken to Netanyahu, he said, "I did talk to people over there," but he declined to say to whom.


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