Israel prohibits Palestinians from going to London to take part in 'Quartet' conference

An official representative of the British Foreign Office told RIA Novosti on Monday that the Israeli government had decided to prohibit Palestinian politicians from leaving the territory of the Palestinian National authority to attend the London conference together with representatives of the Middle East Quartet.

According to him, the day before, Foreign Secretary Jack Straw spoke over the phone with Israeli Foreign Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

During the conversation, the Israeli side informed London that in the light of Sunday terrorists acts, the country's Cabinet decided to forbid Palestinians leaving the country for participation in the London conference.

According to an official representative of the Foreign Office, Straw asked his Israeli colleague to reconsider the decision.

British Prime Minister Tony Blair invited representatives of Egypt, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to take part in the conference apart from representatives of the Quartet (the US, Russia, the EU, and the UN). The British Premier suggested that Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat appoint his representatives to participate in the work of the conference and also invited prominent Palestinian politicians.

According to a Sunday report of The Observer, the conference was scheduled for 14 January.

The Foreign Office failed to reply whether the conference was under the threat of being cancelled in connection with the Israel decision.

According to the Israeli embassy in London, the meeting planned to take place on the initiative of Tony Blair with Palestinian leaders in London "to which Israelis were not invited" had to consider issues related to the transformation of power in Palestine.

At the same time Israeli diplomats stressed that "in the light of recent terrorist acts in Israel, emphasis should be laid to the security area and not to the area of the Palestinian authority's executive power.

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