U.S. Rep Rashida Tlaib has canceled plans to visit relatives in the West Bank after she was barred by the Israeli government from making a diplomatic mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Israel's interior minister reversed the decision Friday and said Tlaib would be allowed to make a separate "humanitarian visit" to see her grandmother, but only after she submitted a written pledge "to respect conditions imposed by Israel."
Tlaib declined the offer, saying she could not allow Israel to use her love for her grandmother "to bow down to their oppressive & racist policies."
Israel's government originally stopped Tlaib and fellow Rep. Ilhan Omar's so-called "Delegation to Palestine" in response to the lawmakers' support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement, which seeks to pressure Israel to end its rights abuses against Palestinians.
Tlaib and Omar had planned to be in the region for four days to meet with Palestinian youth and civil society organizations. They wanted to learn about conditions in the territories since the Trump administration moved to stop providing aid to people living in the West Bank and Gaza.
The decision to bar the freshman congresswomen was encouraged by President Trump, but widely criticized by Democratic lawmakers, civil rights activists and some pro-Israel advocacy groups. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called it an "unprecedented" strike against both diplomacy and U.S.-Israeli relations.
The diplomatic spat once again brought attention to the amount of control Israeli authorities have over the lives and everyday affairs of Palestinians — even those who hold U.S. passports or serve in U.S. Congress, like Tlaib.
Palestinians living in the West Bank must receive special permission from the government to travel outside the Palestinian territories — and those living in Gaza are restricted from traveling anywhere abroad.
Many Palestinians living elsewhere are unable to return to visit their families because of Israeli barriers to entry into both Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Prominent human rights attorney and Palestinian activist Noura Erakat tweeted that Israel's demands represented an "age-old proposition." She said, "you can stay in your homeland as a humanitarian exception - without political rights - & on condition you surrender & cease to resist."