Beit Ur al-Foqa: The West Bank family of a Palestinian-American who became one of the first two Muslim women elected to the US Congress hopes she can help curb some of President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel policies.
Rashida Tlaib, 42, made history on Tuesday when she won a seat in Michigan’s 13th congressional district, which includes parts of Detroit, as Democrats retook control of the House of Representatives.
She became the first Palestinian-American woman and one of the first two Muslim women to enter Congress, with Somali-American Ilhan Omar also winning a seat.
Tlaib herself was born in the United States but both her parents left the Palestinian territories in the 1970s.
Sitting in the Tlaib family home in the village of Beit Ur al-Foqa, her uncles Bassam and Issa said they hoped she could help stop Trump, who has taken a series of steps that have pleased Israel but infuriated the Palestinians.
Among these have been moving the US embassy to Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a city the Palestinians also consider their capital.
“Trump is the most influential person taking (Israel’s) side. Look at what he has done — moving the US embassy to Jerusalem in addition to a number of issues we don’t want to list,” Bassam said.
“Of course, Rashida will be against these policies,” he said.
“We need someone to raise our issue, the Palestinian issue.”
– ‘Source of pride’ –
Tlaib is a staunch critic of Trump and has accused the US president of demonising Muslims.
She once heckled the president during a 2016 campaign stop in Detroit and was detained for interrupting one of his speeches.
Earlier this year she told the UK’s Channel Four news she would oppose aid to Israel unless it worked for peace, and to end its injustices against Palestinians.
“I will be using my position as a member of Congress to say no country, not one, should be able to get aid from us… when they still promote that kind of injustice,” she said.
The US provides Israel $3.8 billion in military aid a year.
It has cut around $500 million in aid to Palestinians in the past year.
The Palestinian leadership severed all ties with the Trump administration after the embassy move was announced last December.
The Tlaib family home is around 50 meters (yards) from the 443 motorway — an Israeli road that cuts through the occupied West Bank.
The closest neighbours are two Israeli military checkpoints which guard the road.
“There are many times when they stop you, search you, make you late for work. That’s the suffering of the Palestinian people,” Bassam said.
Tlaib has returned home to visit several times, most recently in 2006, he added.
She also married in the village, in what her other uncle Issa described as a fantastic celebration.
Bassam said the election was a source of great pride for the family.
Since Wednesday morning, he said, they had received a near constant stream of well-wishers from nearby neighbourhoods.
“We are very happy. This is a source of pride for us — as a family, as Palestinians, as Arabs and as Muslims.”
They said Tlaib has promised to come back and visit.