Belgium, Europe- The Development and Cooperation Minister, Meryame Kitir, was going to visit on Wednesday, but the Israeli authorities said no to give her permission to take entry into the Palestinian territory.
Kitir is likely to visit Palestine this week as well as was because of the visit to a waste treatment project in Gaza, in which Belgium is taking part through the UN Development Programme (UNDP). But the visit was cancelled after being declined access by the authorities of Israel.
Moreover, the representative Kitir mentioned in the statement, “The Israeli authorities have made it clear that they do not allow political visits to Gaza at this time.”
According to her cabinet, the government of Israeli controls the only gateway that is completely leading to the entire walled-off Gaza Strip. It has the power to deny such a visit.
Instead, Kitir will further travel to Bethlehem, where she will visit various cooperation projects.
Along with this, a visit to Gaza is not straightforward, as most of the ministers of Belgium have denied in recent years.
In 2010, the then-Development Coordinator Minister Charles Michel was already refused entry, and while the former Foreign Minister Didier Reynders was given permission to visit in 2016, all of the ministers who tried in later years were barred.
In addition, the fact that Kitir opted only to visit Palestinian territories may have played a part in her being denied entry to Gaza. She broke the Belgian diplomatic tradition’s unwritten rule of visiting both sides by choosing not to stay in Israeli territories.
Her visit follows a period of unrest, with (foiled) terrorist attacks near every day. About 19 individuals have died in seven attacks in the previous six weeks.
On Friday, Kitir’s visit to Palestine was cancelled.