Foreign Minister cancels trip to Qatar

Sunday, October 29, 2006 |  by Staff Writer
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni decided to decline her invitation to attend an event, which will be held by the United Nations in Qatar's capital Doha on Sunday. This was decided after Israel learned that a Hamas delegation would also be participating.

Livni was invited by the government of Qatar and if she would have attended this would have been the first time that an Israeli foreign minister has been in Qatar in 10 years when Vice Premier Shimon Peres opened up an Israeli trade office.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the trip was canceled after it learned that two Hamas parliament members are expected to take part in the event.

“Israel plans to stick to its fight against legitimizing Hamas by the international community,” an official at the Foreign Ministry clarified.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that as long as Israel was pressuring the international community not to hold talks with Hamas, an Israeli minister could not be expected to participate in a meeting of this nature.

Although it was the UN, rather than the Qataris, who extended the invitation, Livni would likely have met with Qatari leaders while she was there.

Qatar has been involved in recent negotiations for the release of kidnapped Israel Defense Forces soldier Corporal Gilad Shalit.

The travel arrangements would have been embarrassing considering that the Arab state is part of the moderate axis of Moslem countries in the Middle East, and such a visit could bear great significance.

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