Abbas cancels statehood parley over travel ban

PA bristles after Israel says 5 Non-Aligned Movement foreign ministers won't be allowed to attend Ramallah conference.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 370 (R) (photo credit: Luis Galdamez / Reuters)
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas 370 (R)
(photo credit: Luis Galdamez / Reuters)
A meeting of envoys from the Non-Aligned Movement due to convene in Ramallah was scrapped on Sunday after Israel refused to admit five attendees from states with which it has no diplomatic relations, Palestinian officials said.
They said other guests, including the foreign ministers of Egypt and Zimbabwe, declined to attend in solidarity with those prevented from taking part.
Government officials had earlier stated that a decision was made Sunday to allow the foreign ministers of Egypt, India, Colombia, South Africa, Senegal, Zambia and Zimbabwe to attend the conference.
The foreign ministers of Bangladesh, Cuba, Indonesia, Malaysia and Algeria would not be allowed passage, however.
This was to be the first gathering of its kind in the West Bank since the establishment of the PA in 1994. The Non-Aligned Movement, which has about 120 members, is a group of countries considering themselves not aligned formally with or against any major power bloc.
A day after announcing that it would restart its bid for statehood recognition at the United Nations, a campaign strongly opposed by the United States and Israel, the Palestinian Authority bristled at the Israeli move.
"(Israel) exploits its position as an occupying power to prevent Palestine from communication with the countries of the world and to isolate the Palestinian people and its institutions," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Palestine Liberation Organization's executive committee.
Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas was expected to address the conference and seek the backing of the Non-Aligned Movement for his plan to seek the status of non-member state at the upcoming General Assembly session in New York.
Abbas is expected to attend a meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement in Tehran later this month.
Palestinian officials had hoped entrance into UN agencies and attendance of international gatherings in the capacity of a state would improve their standing internationally and undermine Israel's occupation of the West Bank.
New Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Amru was expected to deliver a speech at the conference. It was not immediately clear whether Amru, or any of the other foreign ministers due to attend the event, would stop in Jerusalem as well for talks with Israeli officials.