05:02 - Source: CNN
After fighting to visit Israel, Rp. Tlaib rejects invitation
Washington CNN —  

Rep. Rashida Tlaib got emotional Friday following her announcement that she would not visit the West Bank to see her 90-year-old grandmother “potentially for the last time” after Israel ultimately reversed its decision to bar the congresswoman from the country.

“I should be on a plane to see her,” Tlaib said, as she choked back tears during a Shabbat service in her hometown of Detroit, according to video from the Jewish Voice for Peace Action, the group that organized the event. “But you all gave me even more love today as much I try to replace as much of what I would have been able to get when I got there.”

The Israeli government barred Tlaib and Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota from entry over their support for a boycott of Israel shortly after President Donald Trump said Israel would be showing “great weakness” by allowing the two Democratic congresswomen to enter the country.

The boycott movement, formally known as the Boycott, Divest, and Sanctions movement, aims to end international support for Israel because of its policies toward Palestinians, as well as its continued construction of West Bank settlements, considered a violation of international law.

Trump has criticized the two lawmakers – who are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress – in harsh and sometimes racist terms. But his move this week to call for their ban in Israel reflects a new chapter in his grudge and a further erosion of presidential norms, which in the past sought to avoid instilling partisanship in foreign affairs.

Israel’s decision to deny entry to the two freshmen congresswomen amounted to a reversal of a position taken last month when Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said the two would be allowed to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories.

In a letter Thursday to Israeli Interior Minister Aryeh Deri requesting the visit to her relatives, Tlaib said: “I will respect any restrictions and will not promote boycotts against Israel during my visit.”

On Friday, Israel reversed course again and said Tlaib would be allowed entry so long as she “committed to accept all the demands of Israel to respect the restrictions imposed on her in the visit, and she also promised not to advance boycotts against Israel during her visit.”

Tlaib later announced Friday she would not be making the trip because “visiting my grandmother under these oppressive conditions meant to humiliate me would break my grandmother’s heart.”

“Thank you for not politicizing what’s happened to me, because I’m still a granddaughter,” Tlaib told her supporters Friday in Detroit. “More than anything, I’m a granddaughter. I’m also proud of my Palestinian roots. And I’m also strong because I grew up in the most beautiful, blackest city in the country, in the city of Detroit.”

She thanked supporters for giving her strength. “I really truly want to thank you so that I’m not home right now thinking about where I’m not at. I’m here with my family,” Tlaib said.

In response to Tlaib’s announcement Friday that she would not visit the country, Deri said in a statement that Tlaib’s “hatred of Israel is stronger than her love of her grandmother” and accused the Michigan congresswoman of requesting to visit her family as “a provocation in order to besmirch Israel.”

Trump defended Israel’s decision on Friday, attacked Tlaib’s actions as calculated via Twitter.

“Israel was very respectful & nice to Rep. Rashida Tlaib, allowing her permission to visit her ‘grandmother.’ As soon as she was granted permission, she grandstanded & loudly proclaimed she would not visit Israel. Could this possibly have been a setup? Israel acted appropriately!” Trump said.

He added in a separate post, “The only real winner here is Tlaib’s grandmother. She doesn’t have to see her now!”

Tlaib and Omar’s visit had been scheduled to take place from August 18 to 22. They were set to visit Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Ramallah and Hebron. The two congresswomen also planned to meet with Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and representatives of human rights organizations. Tlaib was planning on staying two extra days to visit her grandmother, Muftiya Tlaib, who lives in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Tahta.

This story has been updated.

CNN’s Oren Liebermann, Amir Tal, Lauren Said-Moorhouse, Clare Foran, Kevin Liptak, Abeer Salman, Michael Schwartz and Nikki Cavajal contributed to this report.