NAM’s Palestine meet cancelled

Published - August 06, 2012 03:13 am IST - Jerusalem/Ramallah

A meeting of a Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) committee that includes India to support a Palestinian bid for upgraded U.N. membership was cancelled at the last minute on Sunday after Israel refused to allow representatives of five countries to enter West Bank.

The meeting of 12 representatives of the committee with Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership was scheduled for evening.

Ministers and representatives were to meet in the West Bank city of Ramallah and sign a declaration in support of a fresh Palestinian bid, seeking upgrading of its status from observer to non-member state.

Denied entry

Ministers and representatives from Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cuba and Malaysia were denied permits to enter Ramallah.

“Israel has refused to issue entry permit to five senior officials who were expected to attend the meetings. So President Mahmoud Abbas was left with no choice but to cancel it,” an official at the PA Presidency told PTI.

Officials at the Israeli Foreign Ministry said that permits were denied to representatives of five countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Others can attend

“Officials from other countries, like India, which have diplomatic ties with Israel can attend the same without any problems,” Ilana Shtein, deputy spokesperson at the Israeli Foreign Ministry, told PTI.

“In any case nothing good comes out of these meetings for Israel and we could not have expected something different given that the next NAM conference is scheduled in Tehran later this month,” Mr. Shtein said.

Last week, PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki said the session was meant to introduce NAM members to the Palestinian situation and to ask for their support should the Palestinian Authority ask to become a non-member state in the U.N. General Assembly.

Right to hold conferences

“The meeting aims to stress the right of our people and leadership to hold conferences on our land and to support our struggle to end the occupation and settlements and establish our independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital,” Mr. al-Malki said.

“The committee will issue a ‘Declaration of Ramallah’ after the meeting, which will be presented at a NAM conference in Tehran later in August,” the PA Foreign Minister said.

The request was then to be put to the U.N. General Assembly on September 27. The move comes a year after Mr. Abbas tried to obtain full-member status. The U.S. had said it would veto any resolution in this regard brought to vote before the Security Council.

Besides India, ministers and officials from Egypt, Algeria, South Africa, Senegal, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh, Cuba and Colombia were expected to attend the meeting.

Flown by helicopter

The representatives were to be flown by helicopter from a Jordanian airport to Ramallah in a move that requires Israeli permission.

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