Israel Prevents Foreign Ministers From Reaching Ramallah

Israel prevented the foreign ministers of Algeria, Cuba, Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia from reaching the Palestinian city of Ramallah in the West Bank, leading to the cancellation of a diplomatic meeting, officials said.

Four of the foreign ministers were planning to attend a meeting today of a committee from the so-called Non-Aligned Movement dealing with the question of Palestinian independence. Algeria didn’t send its foreign minister after being informed Israel was unlikely to let him reach Ramallah.

Israel told Jordan it wouldn’t allow representatives from the five countries with which it has no diplomatic relations to cross the border. It allowed seven others to fly by helicopter from Amman to Ramallah, Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said. The meeting was canceled because of the absence of the diplomats, the Palestinian Authority’s foreign minister, Riad Malki, said.

“We believe that we should not need Israeli consent to hold an international forum in the Palestinian occupied territories,” Malki said at a news conference in Ramallah. He said he would meet the diplomats later in Amman.

Israel captured the West Bank from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East war, when it also took over the Gaza Strip from Egypt and the Golan Heights from Syria. It still controls the air space and border crossings to the West Bank from Jordan.

Palmor said his government acted because officials felt no need to facilitate access for countries that don’t recognize Israel.

“That’s really not in the spirit of international cooperation,” he said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jonathan Ferziger in Tel Aviv at jferziger@bloomberg.net; Fadwa Hodali in Jerusalem at fhodali@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Louis Meixler at lmeixler@bloomberg.net

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