West Bank summit scrapped after Israel bars envoys (REUTERS) By Noah Browning RAMALLAH, West Bank 08/05/12 4:30pm EDT)
Reuters News Service
Reuters News Service Articles-Index-Top
(Reuters) - A meeting of envoys from the Non-Aligned Movement due to
convene in the Israeli-occupied West Bank was scrapped on Sunday
after Israel refused to admit four attendees from states with which
it has no diplomatic relations, Palestinian officials said.
The envoys were due to sign a declaration backing the Palestinians
ahead of their planned campaign to win recognition as a state at the
United Nations next month.
Israel barred the foreign ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia along
with ambassadors from Cuba and Bangladesh on the grounds the four
countries do not recognize the Jewish state.
Palestinian officials said the other conference guests, including the
foreign ministers of Egypt and Zimbabwe, were granted clearance to
attend but declined in solidarity with the barred envoys.
"The goal of this decision, which was issued at the highest political
echelons in Israel, is to thwart the efforts of the Palestinian
leadership to achieve more successes for the benefit of Palestinians
and its efforts to end the occupation," Palestinian foreign minister
Riyad al-Malki told reporters.
The Non-Aligned Movement is a diplomatic bloc founded during the Cold
War to advocate the causes of the developing world.
Israel was unapologetic about its decision. "We have cleared entry
for representatives of countries which have diplomatic relations with
Israel and we have not cleared those which do not," said foreign
ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.
Israel controls access to the West Bank, which can be reached via the
main checkpoint outside Jerusalem on the road coming up from Ben
Gurion International Airport, or at the Allenby Bridge over the
Jordan River, on the road from Amman.
The United Nations criticized the Israeli action, saying it
undermined the interim peace agreements which entitled Palestinians
to autonomy in a small part of the West Bank, called Area A.
"Denying the Palestinian Authority the ability to engage with members
of the international community in Area A is yet another step that
contradicts the credibility of the Oslo arrangements which affirm the
Palestinian right of self-government," Robert Serry, U.N. Special
Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, said in a statement.
The decision to exclude the envoys came a day after the Palestinian
Authority announced it would resume its bid for statehood recognition
at the United Nations, a campaign strongly opposed by Israel and the
The planned drive for non-member observer status, akin to the
Vatican´s, would be an indirect recognition of their claims on
statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. It would
allow them to join a number of U.N. agencies, and the International
Once that status was achieved the Palestinians would pursue full U.N.
membership, foreign minister Malki said on Saturday
Israel views Palestinian attempts to bolster their standing at the
United Nations and in other diplomatic bodies as hostile, saying
there is no substitute for direct negotiation in solving the Middle
Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestine Liberation Organization´s executive
committee decried Israel´s barring of envoys on Sunday, saying
it "exploits its position as an occupying power to prevent Palestine
from communication with the countries of the world and to isolate the
Palestinian people and its institutions".
She called the Israeli decision "a blatant and crude exercise of
power and a form of political siege".
Twelve envoys belonging to the Non-Aligned Movement´s Palestine
Commission were due to convene the meeting in the West Bank on
Sunday, in advance of an annual meeting of the whole organization in
Iran at the end of the month.
"Nothing constructive, to say the very least, has ever come out of
this committee in the past, and now that it is going to meet in Iran
under the chairmanship of Tehran, expectations could not be lower,"
Palmor said. Israel regards Iran as its number one enemy.
(Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta in Ramallah and Dan Williams in
Jerusalem; Editing by Douglas Hamilton and Pravin Char) (© Thomson
Reuters 2012. 08/05/12)
Return to Top
MATERIAL REPRODUCED FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY