An Israeli delegation was blocked from attending a United Nations-affiliated postal conference here this week, sparking protests from the UN and an American delegation. The four-member Israeli delegation, headed by the country's postal director, was turned back by immigration officials at Dubai International Airport on Monday because they lacked visas, said officials here, including Juliana Nel, spokeswoman for the Bern, Switzerland-based Universal Postal Union. On Tuesday, the US delegation issued a statement regretting that the Israelis were turned back. The UPU lodged a formal protest with the Emirates government, Nel said. The Israeli officials lacked entry visas and had not made an advance application to enter the country to attend the conference, said an Emirates government official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Nel said the UPU had not been told exactly why the Israelis weren't given visas on Monday. "We made it very clear that since we are a UN specialized agency, that this wasn't acceptable to us," Nel said on Wednesday. "There should be no discrimination against a member state." Israelis are normally blocked from entering the Emirates and other countries that have no diplomatic links with the Jewish state. But moderate Gulf Arab countries, including the Emirates, routinely allow Israelis who make visa arrangements to attend international conferences held under the auspices of the UN, World Bank and others. On Tuesday, the Emirates authorities invited the Israeli delegation to return, but Nel said it was unclear whether they would, since the conference would finish Thursday. The American delegation, headed by Dennise Mathieu, US Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, issued a statement thanking the Emirates for inviting the Israelis to come back. The UPU's 2006 Strategy Conference has lured 700 delegates from 134 countries to Dubai to discuss the future of postal services, including new technologies giving the post a larger role in global trade. The Emirates and many other Muslim countries do not maintain postal or telephone links with Israel.