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5 Aug, 2012

Israel Blocks Four Foreign Ministers from Entering Occupied West Bank


RAMALLAH, Aug. 5 (Xinhua) — Israel on Sunday obstructed the Palestinians to gain more international support for their bid to the United Nations to be recognized as a state.

The Palestinian National Authority (PNA) was scheduled to host a meeting for some states of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) in Ramallah, but the meeting was cancelled after the Israeli authorities prevented the delegations of four countries from entering the West Bank, according to a spokesman.

The foreign ministers of Malaysia, Cuba, Indonesia and Bangladesh were barred from entering the West Bank to join the meeting, which was meant to prepare for the NAM summit to be held in Iran at the end of this month, said Hassan Balawi, spokesman for the Palestinian foreign affairs ministry.

“We have decided to cancel the meeting in response to the aggressive Israeli decision,” Balawi said, adding that the four ministers who were denied entry by Israel are members of the NAM’s Palestine Committee. The delegations came from Jordan through the borders with Israel.

The meeting was seeking an agreement on a joint formula to support the Palestinians’ bid for upgrading their status to a non- member observer in the United Nations.

The Palestinians are using every single event to officially gain more support for their bid of upgrading their status in the United Nations. They are planning to go for the bid when the UN General Assembly holds its annual meeting on Sept. 27.

Earlier on Sunday, Reyad al-Malki, the PNA minister of foreign affairs, told Palestinian Radio that he was very much concerned that Israel did not give the needed permission to all delegations to cross from Jordan to the West Bank. He said he was not sure if Israel would let all of them in.

“There are efforts and contacts between the Palestinian ( National) Authority and Jordan to overcome the problem, but I believe that there are logistic arrangements, which are very complicated because some of the committee members’ countries don’t have diplomatic ties with Israel,” said al-Malki.

Al-Malki said the PNA in coordination with Jordan can hold the meeting in both Ramallah and Amman, capital of Jordan, through the videoconference system, adding that so far it has not been decided whether to hold it in both cities or only in Amman to enable all members to attend.

The meeting of the NAM Palestine Committee was supposed to start in Ramallah with a speech of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to review the stalled peace process in the Middle East and express his intentions of applying again to the UN General Assembly for a state status.

Observers said the PNA was aiming to guarantee the full support of 13 countries for recognizing the state of Palestine as a non- member observer. In the United Nations, there are 193 states that enjoy full membership, where the Palestinians are seeking the UN General Assembly’s recognition of an observing non-member state.

“The meeting was supposed to be held in Ramallah and the meeting scheduled to be held in Tehran for the Non-Aligned Movement will produce a moral, political and legal commitments of those countries to support the Palestinian bid for the UN recognition,” said al-Malki.

He expressed hope that the Palestinians would get enough votes of the General Assembly members. In 1988, 130 countries supported the Palestinian declaration of independence made in Algeria on Nov. 15, and al-Malki expects the coming bid would gain support from more than 130 countries.

However, Israel and the United States are opposing the Palestinian bid for the UN recognition.

The Palestinians decided to apply to the UN after the peace talks with Israel were completely stopped in October 2010 due to the Israeli continuation of settlement building. They said no talks with Israel until Israel completely stops settlement activities, which, however, is refused by Israel.