Israel bars envoys, West Bank conference canceled

RAMALLAH, West Bank Sun Aug 5, 2012 8:41am EDT

RAMALLAH, West Bank (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.

They said other guests, including the foreign ministers of Egypt and Zimbabwe, declined to attend in solidarity with those prevented from taking part.

Israel, which controls access to the West Bank, barred the foreign ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia along with ambassadors from Cuba and Bangladesh on the grounds that the four countries do not recognize the Jewish state.

"We have cleared entry for representatives of countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel and we have not cleared those which do not," Yigal Palmor, an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman, told Reuters.

The Non-Aligned Movement, founded during the Cold War to advocate the causes of the developing world, was to convene an unprecedented, high-level meeting in the West Bank in solidarity with the Palestinian leadership, in advance of an annual meeting 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.

A day after announcing that it would restart its bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations, a campaign strongly opposed by the United States and Israel, the Palestinian Authority bristled at the Israeli move.

"(Israel) 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," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee.

Palestinian officials had hoped entrance into U.N. agencies and attendance of international gatherings in the capacity of a state would improve their standing internationally and undermine Israel's 45-year occupation of the West Bank.

(Reporting by Noah Browning in Ramallah and Dan Williams in Jerusalem; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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Comments (3)
xcanada2 wrote:
This once again clearly exposes Israel as a apartheid state. They control access to the the Palestinian part of Israel, therefore they own it. Give everybody in Greater Israel, including the West Bank and Gaza, the vote! Viva the One-State solution!

Aug 05, 2012 11:12am EDT  --  Report as abuse
kafantaris wrote:
Leave it to Israel to shoot itself on the foot — time and time again.  
And we thought it was only Iran that needed the PR polishing.  

Aug 05, 2012 11:23am EDT  --  Report as abuse
TheUSofA wrote:
Avraham Burg, a former speaker of the Knesset, is the author of “The Holocaust Is Over: We Must Rise From Its Ashes” and the chairman of Molad, the Center for Renewal of Democracy.

His recent editorial:

Israel’s Fading Democracy

…Israel arose as a secular, social democratic country inspired by Western European democracies. With time, however, its core values have become entirely different. Israel today is a religious, capitalist state. Its religiosity is defined by the most extreme Orthodox interpretations. Its capitalism has erased much of the social solidarity of the past, with the exception of a few remaining vestiges of a welfare state. Israel defines itself as a “Jewish and democratic state.” However, because Israel has never created a system of checks and balances between these two sources of authority, they are closer than ever to a terrible clash…

…BUT something went wrong in the operating system of Jewish democracy. We never gave much thought to the Palestinian Israeli citizens within the Jewish-democratic equation. We also never tried to separate the synagogue and the state. If anything, we did the opposite. Moreover, we never predicted the evil effects of brutally controlling another people against their will. Today, all the things that we neglected have returned and are chasing us like evil spirits…

The winds of isolation and narrowness are blowing through Israel. Rude and arrogant power brokers, some of whom hold senior positions in government, exclude non-Jews from Israeli public spaces. Graffiti in the streets demonstrates their hidden dreams: a pure Israel with “no Arabs” and “no gentiles.” They do not notice what their exclusionary ideas are doing to Israel, to Judaism and to Jews in the diaspora. In the absence of a binding constitution, Israel has no real protection for its minorities or for their freedom of worship and expression.

If this trend continues, all vestiges of democracy will one day disappear, and Israel will become just another Middle Eastern theocracy. It will not be possible to define Israel as a democracy when a Jewish minority rules over a Palestinian majority between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea — controlling millions of people without political rights or basic legal standing.

This Israel would be much more Jewish in the narrowest sense of the word, but such a nondemocratic Israel, hostile to its neighbors and isolated from the free world, wouldn’t be able to survive for long….

Aug 05, 2012 4:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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