The Palestinian Authority has been forced to cancel a planned meeting of envoys from the Non-Aligned Movement in Ramallah after Israel refused to admit four attendees from states with which it has no diplomatic relations.
Israel barred the foreign ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia, along with ambassadors from Cuba and Bangladesh, from crossing from Jordan into Ramallah since they do not recognize the Jewish State.
PA officials told Reuters on Sunday that other conference guests, including the foreign ministers of Egypt and Zimbabwe, were granted clearance to attend but declined in solidarity with the barred envoys.
“The goal of this decision, which was issued at the highest political echelons in Israel, is to thwart the efforts of the Palestinian leadership to achieve more successes for the benefit of Palestinians and its efforts to end the occupation,” the PA’s foreign minister Riyad al-Malki was quoted as having told reporters.
The conference was to be held to back PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ renewed attempt to win recognition from the United Nations, this time as an observer state.
The United Nations criticized the Israeli action, saying it undermined the interim peace agreements which entitled the PA to autonomy in Area A.
“Denying the Palestinian Authority the ability to engage with members of the international community in Area A is yet another step that contradicts the credibility of the Oslo arrangements which affirm the Palestinian right of self-government,” Robert Serry, the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, was quoted by Reuters as having said in a statement.
Hanan Ashrawi of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee decried Israel's barring of envoys, saying it “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.”
She called the Israeli decision "a blatant and crude exercise of power and a form of political siege,” according to Reuters.
Israel, meanwhile, was unapologetic about its decision. Foreign Minister Spokesman Yigal Palmor told Reuters, “We have cleared entry for representatives of countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel and we have not cleared those which do not.”