P.A. Miffed as Israel Denies Entry to Foreign Ministers

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JERUSALEM, Israel -- Palestinian Authority officials cancelled a two-day conference of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) scheduled to take place in Ramallah after Israel refused entry to five of 12 foreign ministers planning to participate.

The P.A. planned to discuss its second unilateral statehood bid next month at the U.N. General Assembly, which comes one year after its failed bid in the Security Council.
 
Israel granted entry to ministers from Egypt, Columbia, South Africa, India, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Senegal, who planned to come from Jordan via the Allenby Bridge and travel by helicopter to Ramallah.

But entry was denied to ministers from Algeria, Indonesia, Malaysia, Bangladesh and Cuba because those countries have no diplomatic ties with Israel.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said countries that "don't even bother to have relations with Israel…cannot be a player here," the Jerusalem Post reported. "Under international agreements, we have the authority and duty to clear entry via Jordan, whether entrance is by land or air."

Fatah central committee member Nabil Shaath said the delegates were coming to "Palestine" so Israel should not have denied them entry, the P.A. semi-offical WAFA news agency reported.

Speaking with reporters to announce the cancellation, P.A. Foreign Minister Riad Malki said "occupation and settlements are illegitimate and the crimes that are being perpetrated against our people cannot be concealed by the Israeli government's decision to ban visits by foreign delegations."

The Non-Aligned Movement describes itself as an international organization made up of 120 countries "not formally aligned with or against any major power bloc."

The group will hold its 16th summit in Tehran from Aug. 26-31, when Iran will assume the rotating presidency for three years, according to its website.

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