Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.
Israel back-tracked Friday morning and said Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Michigan) would be allowed to enter to visit her grandmother on the West Bank, after she promised not to promote boycotts of the country while she's there.
On Thursday, Israel said it would bar Tlaib and her close ally Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Michigan), an unprecedented decision that earned the support of President Donald Trump.
The New York Times reported that Tlaib then wrote to Israeli interior minister Aryeh Deri late on Thursday and asked to be allowed to see her relatives — her 90-year-old grandmother, in particular — who live in the Palestinian village of Beit Ur al-Fouqa.
“This could be my last opportunity to see her,” Tlaib wrote. “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”
While Tlaib’s letter might have opened the door for her to enter Israel, there were no indications on Friday that Israel would lift its ban on Omar. The two congresswomen had planned to visit Israel this weekend, and Israel originally approved. But Trump pushed privately for the lawmakers to be barred from entering, and on Thursday morning he tweeted angrily about their planned visit.
“It would show great weakness if Israel allowed Rep. Omar and Rep.Tlaib to visit,” the president tweeted. “They hate Israel & all Jewish people, & there is nothing that can be said or done to change their minds.”
Soon enough, Israel announced that it would keep the congresswomen from entering the country.
Both Tlaib and Omar have been critical of Israel’s treatment of Palestinians, and have supported the BDS movement — boycott, divestment and sanctions — which Israel cited in its decision to bar them. Tlaib and Omar, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, are also regular critics of Trump, with whom Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has a close relationship.
While it pleased the president, the decision to keep American lawmakers out of Israel angered lots of people, including American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which almost never splits from Israel.
“We disagree with Reps. Omar and Tlaib’s support for the anti-Israel and anti-peace BDS movement, along with Rep. Tlaib’s calls for a one-state solution,” AIPAC said in a statement on Thursday. “We also believe every member of Congress should be able to visit and experience our democratic ally Israel firsthand.”
Upon reversing the decision to bar Tlaib, the interior ministry said it hoped she “would keep her commitment and that the visit would truly be solely for humanitarian purposes.”
Cover: U.S. Rep. Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich., listens to a constituent in Wixom, Mich., Thursday, Aug. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)