President Donald Trump criticized Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s decision not to travel to visit her grandmother in the West Bank as requested after Israel’s approval for her to visit the country, calling it “a complete setup” and political stunt.
U.S. congresswoman Rashida Tlaib on Friday rejected an offer by Israel to allow her to travel to the country to see her grandmother, in yet another political stunt by members of the Democratic party ahead of elections upcoming elections.
Tlaib, a Michigan Democratic member of the U.S. House of Representatives, has been vocal about her criticisms of Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. She had planned to make an official visit to Israel along with fellow Democratic congresswoman Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, however, after harsh comments form President Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu announced on Thursday that the representatives would not get the approval needed for them to make the trip.
On Friday, however, Israel’s Interior Ministry said it had received a letter from Tlaib seeking permission to visit her family in the West Bank village of Beit Ur Al-Fauqa, and it granted her request on humanitarian grounds. The Congresswomen rejected the offer though, stating that she would not visit her family there because the Israeli government had imposed “oppressive conditions” to humiliate her. While Tlaib did not reveal the supposed conditions imposed on her visit by Israel, the Israeli media reported that she had agreed not to promote boycotts against Israel as part of her request to Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
President Trump criticized Tlaib for opting not to travel to Israel after she was given permission only to visit her grandmother.
“As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded & loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel,” Trump said on his social media account Friday night. “Could this possibly have been a setup? Israel acted appropriately!” The president didn’t hold his tongue when he also said that Tlaib’s grandmother was “the only real winner” of the situation since she “doesn’t have to see Tlaib.” He called the behavior a political stunt.
Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri, who is the one who approved Tlaib’s request to visit the country, criticized her decision not to visit as well. “It turns out that it was a provocation to embarrass Israel. Her hatred for Israel overcomes her love for her grandmother,” Deri wrote on his Twitter account.
It is no secret that Tlaib and Omar support the pro-Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement which opposes the Israeli occupation and policies toward Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. This classifies them both as BDS backers, which means that they can be denied entry to Israel by law.