Head of Danish Parliament to Visit PA, Skip Israel
The Speaker of the Danish parliament will visit the Palestinian Authority this weekend but will skip Israel, Channel 10 News reported on Thursday.
According to the report, the Speaker, Mogens Lykketoft, announced two months ago that he would be visiting the region, and the Foreign Ministry explained to Lykketoft that his Israeli counterpart, Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein, will be unable to meet him on these specific dates. The Ministry offered alternative dates, but did not receive a response.
In recent days, according to Channel 10, Israel understood that Lykketoft would arrive as scheduled this weekend, will meet with PA officials in Ramallah and even plans to visit Gaza, where he will meet with members of the international community and not officials of the Hamas terrorist government.
The Danish Embassy tried to coordinate at the last minute a meeting between the Danish speaker and a lower-level senior official, but the Foreign Ministry decided not hold a meeting unless it was between Lykketoft and Edelstein.
The Foreign Ministry reacted angrily to the decision of the Danish Speaker, telling Channel 10, “It seems as though the Danish Speaker finds it more important to please his voters in Denmark who identify with the Palestinians, while ignoring Israel.”
Edelstein himself was quoted as having said that he regrets the fact that, unlike other world leaders such as French President Francois Hollande and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, the Danish Speaker decided not to include Israel in his visit to the region.
"This is very serious," he told Channel 10. "I do not understand how a visit to Gaza, which is controlled by Hamas, goes along with Denmark's democratic values.”
The report noted that incidentally, Lykketoft’s visit to Gaza would require approval from Israel, as is any visit by an international official. As the Danish Speaker has chosen not to visit Israel, officials told Channel 10, “Due to his conduct, we have no intention of letting him enter Gaza.
The incident follows recent tensions with Europe, which has condemned Israel over its construction in Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem and has approved guidelines which boycott entities operating in these regions.
Earlier this week in was reported that Danske Bank, which is the largest bank in Denmark, is one of two Scandinavian banks that have decided to boycott Israeli banks because they operate in areas located beyond the Green Line.
In response, a group of artists, musicians, and poets petitioned Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat to change the name of a central square in Jerusalem's Beit Hakerem neighborhood that is named after Denmark.
On Thursday, European Union (EU) Foreign Affairs Commissioner Catherine Ashton demanded that Israel take back its announced plans to build over 700 housing units in its capital city.
"These plans endanger the chances of turning Jerusalem into the capital of two countries," claimed Ashton. "I call on the government of Israel to weigh this step again, and take back its decision."