Mogens Lykketoft
Danish parliament speaker: Row with Israel 'storm in a cup of water'
During visit to Ramallah, Lykketoft makes light of his decision to visit West Bank but not Israel

Danish parliament speaker Mogens Lykketoft on Monday downplayed a row with Israeli officials over his decision to visit the West Bank but not Israel.



Speaking during a visit to Ramallah on Monday where he met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Lykketoft called the spat "a storm in a cup of water.


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While Ramallah is included in Lykketoft's visit, the Danish parliament speaker, who previously served as finance minister and foreign minister in Denmark, said that he will not meet any Israeli officials, Israeli and Palestinian media reported over the weekend.


Foreign Ministry spokesman Paul Hirschson said the Danish speaker had insisted on visiting now, even though his Israeli counterpart Yuli Edelstein, had made it clear he wasn't available due to prior commitments.


"It's not accepted practice between friendly countries like Israel and Denmark for an official to come and not visit," Hirschson said.


Edelstein was dumbfounded by Lykketoft's decision to skip Israel, telling Channel 10 television that he did not "understand how visiting Gaza, which is ruled by Hamas, goes along with Denmark's democratic values."


The Foreign Ministry was equally appalled: "It seems the Danish Speaker thinks it's more important to please his Palestinian-supporting constituency."


Lykketoft said he didn't meet with Israeli officials because of scheduling issues. "We have tried hard to find a common time with the Israelis," he said.


Last week Danish bank Danske Bank said it intends to pull out its investments in several companies, including Israeli firms, because of their ties to West Bank settlements.


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