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Rashida Tlaib backs off plans for Israel trip, citing "oppressive conditions"

Congresswoman Tlaib cancels Israel trip

After the Israeli government agreed to allow U.S. Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib entry into the West Bank to visit her relatives during an overseas humanitarian trip, the Michigan Democrat says she's now changing her plans amid widespread outcry, slamming Israeli leadership for their initial ban

"When I won, it gave the Palestinian people hope that someone will finally speak the truth about the inhumane conditions. 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," Tlaib, who is Muslim and of Palestinian descent, tweeted of her planned visit with her grandmother.

She added, "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."

Tlaib had posted on social media that she had planned to pick figs with her 90-year old grandmother and was exchanging messages with her cousin about making a welcome sign for her and fellow "Squad" member Rep. Ilhan Omar. She said in a later official congressional statement that her trip was contingent upon signing a letter by the Israeli government, something she says was "meant to humiliate me."

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Representative Rashida Tlaib Bloomberg

Tlaib's reversal in plans comes just after Israel said Friday that it had received and granted a request by Rep. Tlaib to visit the West Bank on humanitarian grounds. The move came a day after the Israeli government said it would bar Tlaib and Omar, who openly support a Palestinian-led boycott movement against Israel over its policies in the Palestinian territories, from entering the country. 

Both Tlaib and Omar have been embroiled in controversy as of late after being targeted by President Trump in a string of inflammatory tweets. Mr. Trump had suggested Tlaib and Omar, along with Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ayanna Pressley, should "go back" to where they came from. All of the congresswomen, of course, are American citizens. 

Both Tlaib and Omar are also outspoken critics of Israel's treatment of the Palestinians. Tlaib's family immigrated to the U.S. from the West Bank. Omar has been accused of anti-Semitism for previous remarks about Israel, but has apologized for her comments.    

Responding to criticism over the snubbed visit, Omar, a Somali-born Muslim, tweeted Friday that had their visit gone as planned, she was set to hold meetings with Arab and Jewish members of Israeli's Knesset along with Israeli security officials.

"Then, the delegation was going to receive a briefing on the Bedouin community in East Jerusalem," Omar added. "Then the UN was going to brief us about the effect of humanitarian aid cuts on Palestinians." Omar said plans for a video conference with Gaza youth members was also on the books. 

On Thursday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the country's interior minister had decided to deny entry to both Tlaib and Omar, who were scheduled to visit next week. He said he supported that decision, which drew swift rebukes from Democratic leaders in Congress as well as the leading pro-Israel lobbying group in the U.S.  

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