Middle East Monitor / October 4, 2023
The Israeli Foreign Ministry has prevented three European foreign ministers from entering the occupied West Bank, Israeli media revealed yesterday.
The foreign ministers of Ireland, the UK and Norway all visited the region in recent weeks, The Times of Israel reported, and all requested to visit Palestinian towns in Area C of the West Bank.
According to the Israeli newspaper, the requests were denied by the Israeli Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministry spokesman told The Times of Israel: “After consulting with security officials, we decided not to allow them into specific sites in Area C.”
However, officials from the Israel Defence Ministry told Walla news website that it did not advise the Foreign Ministry to do so, while the Shin Bet security service said it did not hold any consultations with the Foreign Ministry on the matter.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military liaison to the Palestinians said the Foreign Ministry only contacted it concerning Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin, adding that it did not recommend preventing his visit for security reasons.
Unnamed European officials said they believed the move was part of a policy shift under Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right government to stop European efforts to halt the occupation’s harassment and forced eviction of Palestinians in Area C of the occupied West Bank and its destruction of infrastructure paid for by European states.