Tuesday, October 20, 2009

French FM cancels planned trip to Israel after Netanyahu refuses his request to visit Gaza

(Haaretz).Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will not grant French Foreign Minter Bernard Kouchner permission to visit the Gaza Strip, an Israeli official said on Tuesday.

Kouchner had requested to travel to the coastal territory during his upcoming visit to Israel and the West Bank.

According to the official, Netanyahu sent a message to the French minister saying he could not accede to his request as Hamas would likely take advantage of the visit to create a media frenzy and parade the damages caused by Israel during the Gaza war earlier this year.

On his intented visit to Gaza, Kouchner had planned to observe the construction being done in collaboration with the French at the Al-Quds hospital in Gaza City.

Israel had denied similar requests in the past from Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.