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Israel bans Colombian FM from entering West Bank

Nov. 15, 2014 2:57 P.M. (Updated: Nov. 16, 2014 4:35 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli authorities have banned the foreign minister of Colombia from traveling to the West Bank after they found out she was not planning to visit Israel as well, the Colombian foreign ministry has revealed.

According to a statement on the ministry's website, foreign minister Maria Angela Holguin submitted to the Israeli government -- which controls all crossings in and out of the West Bank -- to travel to Ramallah to meet with Palestinian foreign minister Riad al-Malki as part of a tour of the region.

The ministry said in a statement released on Thursday that Israeli authorities denied the request and refused to allow her to enter Palestine unless she consented to first traveling to Israel and meeting with Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman.

After being notified by Israeli authorities of the refusal, the Colombian minister was forced to cancel her trip. She subsequently met the Palestinian foreign minister in Jordan on Nov. 10 instead.

Israeli officials contacted by Israeli media confirmed the ban, saying that it came at foreign minister Lieberman's urging.

The case comes just as prominent Norwegian physician Mads Gilbert revealed that he had been denied entry to Gaza and was informed by Israel that he would no longer be able to travel there, after years of frequent visits to work in the besieged coastal enclave's beleaguered medical sector.

The two cases underscore the extent to which Israeli authorities continue to control all borders and crossings in and out of both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.
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