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Israel applauded France's Monday decision not to grant a visa to a Hamas representative invited to attend a meeting of the Council of Europe's Parliamentary Assembly (PACE) in Strasbourg.
"The fact that it appears that Hamas members are not getting visas to visit Europe is a positive sign," Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev said.
This was the second time in as many weeks that a Hamas representative has not been able to secure a visa to attend a irrational parliamentary parley in Europe. Last month, Belgium did not process the visa application of Hamas parliamentarian Mahmoud Ahmed al-Ramahi, who wanted to attend the European Union's Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly in Brussels.
Francesc Ferrer, a spokesman for the Council of Europe, was quoted as saying his organization received a letter from the Palestinian Legislative Council saying the Hamas member had been unable to obtain a visa. A spokesman at the French Embassy in Tel Aviv confirmed that France did not issue a visa to the Hamas representative in a three-man Palestinian delegation.
Israel has been engaged for a number of days in diplomatic efforts aimed at preventing a Hamas representation at the Strasbourg gathering, less because the meeting is considered overly important, and more because of the fear it would set a precedent for inviting Hamas representatives to other international gatherings.