Photo: Reuters
Ayalon. Adhering to government policy
Photo: Reuters

Israel prevents Belgian minister from entering Gaza

Belgian Development Cooperation Minister Charles Michel request to visit Strip denied by Deputy Foreign Minister Ayalon, who says 'visit would bolster Hamas'

Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Eyalon on Sunday prevented the entry of a Belgian minister into the Gaza Strip. "Your visit will only bolster Hamas and legitimize it," Ayalon told Belgian Development Cooperation Minister Charles Michel.  


The latter expressed indignation at not being allowed to enter the Strip, as a representative of a country which is funding projects there.


Ayalon and Michel held a meeting in Jerusalem Sunday morning, during which the Belgian minister explained that he wishes to visit Gaza on humanitarian grounds in order to offer the local residents his government's aid.


Ayalon, adhering to the government's declared policy, denied his request. "You are in good company," he told Michel. "The French foreign minister and a Turkish minister were also denied a permit to visit Gaza."


Last October Israel caused a diplomatic stir with its decision to deny French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner to visit the Strip.


State officials rejected claims according to which the step led to Kouchner's visit to Israel, while French elements remained dissatisfied as the visit was intended to support the founding of a hospital in the Gaza Strip. Kouchner eventually arrived in Israel and met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and did not enter the Strip.


Ayalon explained to the Belgian minister that his rejection stems from "our regular policy, in order to prevent Hamas from using these visits in a detrimental way."


He added that "the humanitarian aid reaches Gaza - from food, through to medicine all the way to windowpanes. However, political visits are prohibited."


Sources at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs confirmed the report, and stressed that Israel continues to abide by the assumption that such visits provide support to the Hamas government.


Nevertheless, Israel will continue to allow the transfer of humanitarian aid into the Strip despite the decision to close the goods terminals following the abduction of Gilad Shalit and the firing of rockets and mortar bombs by Hamas.


פרסום ראשון: 01.24.10, 22:45
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