Tearful Tlaib says grandmother advised her against Israel trip

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A tearful United States (US) Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib said on Monday that her Palestinian grandmother told her last week not to visit Israel under conditions demanded by the Israeli government.

Tlaib said she had considered accepting Israeli demands to not engage in politics so that she could travel to the West Bank and visit her grandmother.

“She said I’m her dream manifested, I’m her free bird, so why would I come back and be caged and bow down, when my election rose her head up high, gave her dignity for the first time?” Tlaib told reporters.

“And so through tears, at three in the morning, we all decided as a family that I could not go until I was a free United States congresswoman.”

Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first two Muslim women ever elected to the US Congress, had planned a trip to the Jewish state and Palestinian territories, where they expected to meet activists and officials on both sides.

But last Thursday Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government bowed to urging from President Donald Trump and barred them, accusing them of supporting a boycott against Israel.

Shortly after that, the Israelis partially reversed course and offered Tlaib alone permission to visit her grandmother if she accepted restrictions and promised not to promote the boycott.

Speaking together in Omar’s hometown of St Paul, Minnesota in their first public appearance since the trip’s cancellation, Tlaib and Omar accused Israel of bowing to Trump and trying to hide the reality of the Palestinian situation.

US Representatives Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar hold a news conference in St Paul, Minnesota. PHOTO: AFP