hugo chavez 298.88.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
Venezuela has ceased issuing tourist visas to Israelis, its embassy in Israel said Monday, accenting Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's harsh criticism of Israel.
However, a Venezuelan official said the halt was technical in nature.
Chavez recalls ambassador to Israel
Chavez recalled his top diplomat in Israel to protest what he called the "genocide" Israel was committing in Lebanon during Israel's 34-day war with Hizbullah guerrillas. He also termed Israel's military offensive in Lebanon as a "new Holocaust." Such a recall is one of the strongest diplomatic moves short of severing diplomatic relations.
Israel, in response, briefly called its ambassador to Venezuela to Israel for consultations. He has since returned to his post.
But Venezuela's charge d'affaires has yet to return to Israel. Reached on Monday by phone from Venezuela, Hector Quintero said no tourist visas had been issued since his departure, two and half months ago. Quintero said he was unaware of any official policy change in Caracas regarding the entry of Israelis.
He said the visa freeze was related to "technical" issues relating to his absence from Israel, saying it would be addressed if and when he was sent back to Israel.