August 5, 2012
Israel bars Malaysian Foreign Minister and other NAM Ministers from Ramallah Meet
by Agence France Presse
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Palestinian official said Israel was refusing to allow entry to the Foreign Ministers of Malaysia, Indonesia, Bangladesh and Cuba, none of which have diplomatic relations with the Jewish state.
A senior Israeli official confirmed the move, saying the ban related to five countries. “A decision has been taken to bar the diplomatic representatives of several countries which do not recognise Israel from crossing the Israeli borders,” he told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.The countries in question are Cuba, Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia and Bangladesh,” he said.
Algeria had earlier informed the Palestinian Authority it would not be sending a delegation to Sunday’s meeting of Non-Aligned Movement ministers in Ramallah in order to avoid friction at the Israeli-controlled frontier.
Foreign Ministers from 13 nations belonging to NAM’s Palestine Committee were to meet in Ramallah on Sunday evening to back Palestinian plans to seek upgraded membership at the United Nations when the General Assembly meets next month.
The move, which is likely to gain full backing from the 120-member Non-Aligned Movement when it meets in Tehran later this month, is strongly opposed by Israel and the United States.
Speaking to reporters in Ramallah on Saturday, Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki said the Ministers’ arrival had been closely coordinated with Israeli, Jordanian and Egyptian officials.
“The logistics of getting them here isn’t easy at all, especially as some countries have no relations with Israel and cannot enter through the Israeli border,” he said.
The Palestine Committee comprises Ministers from Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cuba, Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Senegal, Colombia and India.
Normally, anyone visiting the Palestinian territories can only get there by flying into Tel Aviv then driving through Israel to reach Ramallah, or coming through an Israeli-controlled border crossing from Jordan.
In a bid to simplify the logistics, Malki said the Ministers would be flown by helicopter from a Jordanian airport to Ramallah in a move which still requires Israeli permission.