(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))
An expected visit to Gaza later this month by the foreign ministers of Italy, France and Spain does not mean that Israel will now allow any foreign visitor access to the Strip, an Israeli diplomatic official said Monday.
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The official was responding to an announcement Spanish Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero made in Madrid on Monday, saying at a press conference with visiting Syrian President Bashar Assad that the three foreign ministers “have a visit to Gaza in their calendars for this month, to check on how the internal process of lifting of the blockade is going.”
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, during a meeting in Italy last month, invited Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini to lead a delegation of EU foreign ministers to the Gaza Strip to see for themselves that goods are being allowed in and that there is no humanitarian crisis.
According to the parameters of the invitation, the foreign ministers would not meet Hamas officials while in Gaza. They are to also visit Sderot and Ashdod Port, where they will be able to view the process of transferring Gaza-bound goods that arrive by sea.
Israeli diplomatic officials said that just as Israel permitted a visit earlier in the year by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, it was now inviting the EU foreign ministers.
But, the official said, this did not mean that every visit requested from now on would be approved.