Mrs Rashida Tlaib's 90-year-old grandmother has offered to welcome President Trump if and when his Israel-Palestine peace plan is presented.
BEIT UR AL-FAUQA, West Bank – Mrs Rashida Tlaib's 90-year-old grandmother says that when President Donald Trump launches his long-awaited peace plan between Israelis and Palestinians He can visit her house to talk about it.
"But only as a guest – not as a politician," Muftia Tlaib told USA TODAY, sitting on the porch of her house sandwiched between two Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, a Palestinian-ruled area that the Israeli military has occupied since 1967.
"What should I do, curse his father?" she added, noticing the pressure Trump applied to Israel last month, which led his Michigan Democratic granddaughter to cancel a visit.
As he spoke, Tlaib ran a series of wooden beads through his aging fingers. She lives in a crouching house made of sandstone blocks in Beit Ur Al-Faqua, a hilltop village about 15 kilometers from the bustling Palestinian city of Ramallah.
Israel held its second election in less than six months on Tuesday, a tight race in which the country's oldest leader, Benjamin Netanyahu, sought to polish his credentials with voters by maintaining a close relationship with Trump. He also promised to annex Jewish settlements built on Palestinian land in the West Bank.
Netanyahu and his main rival, former Israeli military chief Benny Gantz, were tied for the second time. They may try to form a unity government or a third election, which never happened in Israel, may be needed to break the deadlock.
A view of the West Bank from a security wall that Israel built separating Palestinians and Israelis on September 11, 2019 (Photo: Mohammad Silwadi of USA TODAY)
Trump took a series of firmly pro-Israel actions: He changed the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which the Palestinians also claim as part of their future capital; recognized the Golan Heights as belonging to Israel rather than Syria, defying international law; and withdrew the US from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal with world powers, a deal to which Israel, Iran's sworn enemy, was firmly opposed.
Trump also looked the other way when it comes to the expansion of Israeli Jewish settlements, which are also considered illegal under international law, even if not by Israel, has closed a Palestinian diplomatic office in Washington, DC – its de facto embassy – and all funding for Palestine-related relief projects has been withdrawn.
"If a miracle happens and this Trump plan contains anything for us, of course we will be very happy," said Nasser al Kidwa, nephew of the late Yasser Arafat, the most prominent leader of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO). Arafat was for years at the forefront of violence, border disputes and later diplomacy with Israel over Palestinian demands. He was known for his checkered kerchiefs – "kaffiyeh" in Arabic.
"No hope, no openings, nothing for the Palestinians – that's what we expect," added Al Kidwa, who heads the Yasser Arafat Foundation, a Ramallah-based cultural and educational institution dedicated to Arafat's legacy. "I mean look at the so-called US ambassador to Israel (David Friedman), he himself is a settler," he said, referring to supporters of Israeli civil communities in Palestinian lands, widely seen as a major obstacle in resolving the long term. Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Muftiya Tlaib House in the West Bank village of Beit Ur al-Faqua on September 10, 2019 (Photo: Mohammad Silwadi of USA TODAY)
Many Palestinians are convinced that Friedman, a longtime lawyer with the president's private company Trump Organization, has personally contributed financially to settlements in Israel. A spokesman for the US Embassy in Jerusalem did not answer a direct question about this statement, but said that before assuming his role as ambassador Friedman served as president of the American Friends Center of Bet El Yeshiva, an organization dedicated to sponsoring academic studies at Bet El, a large Orthodox settlement located in the hills north of Jerusalem near Ramallah. Trump's dissolved charitable foundation also contributed to Bet El, according to tax records published in 2016 by The Jerusalem Post, an Israeli newspaper in English.
Together with Rep. Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Rep. Tlaib of Michigan had planned in August to lead a delegation to Israel and the Palestinian territories. However, after Trump tweeted that Israel should ban them from entering the region in part because they are outspoken and highly visible critics of Israel who support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement, which calls on governments and businesses to put economic pressure on them. Israel about the treatment given to the Palestinians, forced the country.
Mrs Tlaib was subsequently allowed to visit her grandmother in Beit Ur al-Faqua as long as she promised not to promote the BDS and to follow other restrictions, but the legislator declined the offer, saying visiting her grandmother "under such oppressive conditions is opposed to everything I believe in."
The US House of Representatives voted in July to pass a resolution condemning the BDS Campaign against Israel. It has no force of law. Israel passed legislation in 2017 that prohibited declared BDS supporters from entering the country.
Omar Barghouti, one of the Palestinian co-founders of the BDS movement, challenged in an interview the allegations of pro-Israel groups in the US and elsewhere, but also in the German Parliament – which in May passed a symbolic resolution that equates the group with the group. anti-Semitism – that the BDS is hostile to the Jews. "BDS opposes all forms of racism, including anti-Jewish racism. Anti-Semitism, which means hatred, intolerance. Or discrimination against Jews, is absolutely condemned and rejected," he said.
Barghouti did not say whether he planned to meet Mr Tlaib on his now abandoned visit to the West Bank. He said the idea was "discussed" with his local Palestinian hosts. The Anti-Defamation League, a US-based group that describes itself as a "strong voice for Israel," includes in its anti-Semitism definition "political efforts to isolate" the Jews. In April, Barghouti was barred from entering the US despite having a valid visa. This week Barghouti did not receive a visa to visit Britain, where he would speak at an event on Palestinian rights on the sidelines of the annual opposition Labor Party conference. The Labor Party has been striving to dispel the anti-Semitism claims that followed it under its leader. Jeremy Corbyn.
It is unclear how much pressure, if any, Trump's pressure on Israel behind closed doors while publicly arguing that the country was blocking two members of Congress, but for the Palestinians it was another example of US favoritism.
"Trump represents the true face of the US government," said Kassam Mtoor, 21, a law specialist at Birzeit University in Ramallah. Mtoor is the president of the college student council. A year ago, Omar al-Kiswani, his predecessor in the role, was filmed violently detained on campus by secret Israeli agents pretending to be Palestinian journalists in the country to interview him. Shin Bet, Israel's security agency, accuses Al-Kiswani of helping to channel money into Hamas, a Palestinian Islamic organization that the US and other countries have designated a terrorist group. Birzeit University says al-Kiswani is being questioned and held without charge and has described Israeli agents as "kidnappers carrying firearms in their backpacks."
Carmen Kishek, a Birzeit University The public relations representative said, "Most of our students involved and active in the student council are arrested (by the Israelis) at some point, regardless of their political affiliation."
More than a decade ago, Palestinian resistance tactics to Israel focused on suicide bombings, and today there are still frequent attacks, mostly spontaneous and opportunistic, against Israeli civilians and soldiers – usually with a domestic weapon, such as a kitchen knife. Israel insists it only detains Palestinians who pose a security risk. Its forces suppress almost daily Palestinian protests by firing live bullets and rubber-coated bullets. Across the West Bank, big red lights warn Israelis not to enter Palestinian villages because their lives will be at risk.
Mtoor represents Fatah's youth party, a Palestinian nationalist party and the largest faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization's ruling West Bank assembly. The student council regularly leads confrontations with Israeli soldiers.
"Serving students has a price. It doesn't matter what that price is," he said.
Kassam Mtoor, law student and student council president at Birzeit University on September 11, 2019. (Photo: Mohammad Silwadi for USA TODAY)
Back in Beit Ur al-Faqua, Mrs Tlaib's relatives were disappointed that her famous American relationship decided not to return to a place she last visited in 2006.
But they understood.
"We plan to slaughter a sheep to celebrate it coming back to visit us," said lawmaker Uncle Bassam Tlaib, 53, an electrician. "But we support her decision. And we know why the Israelis didn't want her here: her visit would show how we, the Palestinians, are suffering under their occupation," he said.
Mrs Tlaib's grandmother, despite her pleasant offer to welcome Trump into her house to "like to sit under an olive tree," seemed ultimately less inclined to conciliation.
"Even if I get an invitation from Trump to travel to the US, I won't," she …