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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Science, Culture, and Sport Minister Ghaleb Majadle's decision Sunday to boycott the cabinet meeting in protest against the IDF's actions in the Gaza Strip has cost him a diplomatic trip to Jordan.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement Sunday saying that after Majadle - the country's first Arab minister - informed cabinet secretary Ovad Yehezkel that he would not take part in the meeting to discuss the situation in Gaza, it was decided not to bring for cabinet approval Majadle's request to visit Jordan.
According to the Prime Minister's Office, this was not a punishment. Rather, the statement said, "a minister who decides to boycott a cabinet meeting cannot then go on a diplomatic visit during which he is supposed to represent the positions of the body he has decided to boycott."
In response, Majadle's office issued a statement saying his trip to Jordan had been cancelled even before Olmert refused to bring it to the cabinet for approval, and that Olmert's office was "jumping on the bandwagon."
According to Majadle's office the Jordanians had already asked that he postpone the trip because of the situation in the Gaza Strip. The Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) had also asked that the trip not take place given the current circumstances, his office added.
"In effect, the decision to cancel the trip was not made by the prime minister," the statement said.
Majadle's boycott triggered a wave of harsh political responses, with Shas leader Eli Yishai calling on him to resign, and Likud head Binyamin Netanyahu calling for him to be fired.