An exceptional summit of the Palestine Committee of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) was cancelled on Sunday after the Israelis refused entry to the occupied West Bank for delegations from four countries.
The Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister, Riyad al-Malki, confirmed that Israel had denied entry to the delegations of participants from Indonesia, Cuba, Malaysia and Bangladesh. The Israeli action prompted the Committee to cancel the meeting which was scheduled to express solidarity with the Palestinians. Media sources said that delegations from eleven NAM states who were heading to the West Bank arrived in Jordan on Sunday morning.
Mr. Al-Malki said that the Committee refused to convene with the reduced number of delegates, or move the venue to an alternative location, because the main reason for this exceptional meeting was to show solidarity by being in occupied Palestine.
Israel justified its refusal to allow the four delegations to enter the West Bank by saying that it has no diplomatic relations with their countries. This was condemned by the Palestinian Authority, which pointed out that Israel has in the past cleared entry for a number of citizens of countries with which it has no diplomatic relations, such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.
Speaking on behalf of representatives of member countries, Egyptian Foreign Minister Kamel Amr said: "The Non-Aligned Movement denounces the Israeli action which contradicts international law as well as Israeli responsibilities as an occupying power."
Mr Amr added: "We express our deep concern about being unable to show our solidarity with the Palestinians by holding this meeting." The Israeli decision, he insisted, will increase the NAM's insistence on helping the Palestinians in seeking their right to a state. He said that the movement has asked its representatives in New York to study this issue and "take the appropriate action".
The cancelled meeting was the first of an international or regional group to be scheduled to convene in occupied Palestine. Delegation members were supposed to have crossed the Allenby Bridge from Jordan, while the delegation heads were to fly in to Ramallah by helicopter.
The Non-Aligned Movement was founded during the Cold War to advocate the causes of the developing countries. In addition to Palestine, the NAM's Palestine Committee includes 11 UN-member states: India, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Cuba, Algeria, Bangladesh, Zambia, Senegal, Colombia and Zimbabwe.