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PACBI-Welsh Assembly speaker boycotts Israeli ambassador


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June 11, 2008

Welsh Assembly speaker boycotts Israeli ambassador

LONDON (AFP) — The speaker of the Welsh Assembly is to boycott a meeting with Israel's ambassador to Britain because of the Jewish state's failure to fulfil its obligations towards Palestinians.

Dafydd Elis-Thomas said he would not meet Ron Prosor at the legislature in Cardiff later this month after his colleague from the nationalist Plaid Cymru party Mohammad Asghar invited all 60 assembly members in an email Tuesday.

"I am unwilling to accept the invitation to meet the ambassador, because of my objection to the failure of the State of Israel to meet its international obligations to the Palestinian people of the Holy Lands," Elis-Thomas said.

The internal invite, marked private and confidential but seen by AFP, added: "I would invite other colleagues to (do) the same."

A spokesman for Asghar said Wednesday he hoped his "good friend" would reconsider.

As presiding officer, Elis-Thomas, a former MP in Britain's parliament and a member of the upper House of Lords, is required to be impartial but he has been outspoken on a number of issues since the assembly was set up in 1999.

In 2006, he said he was "ashamed" at the lack of ethnic minority representation in the assembly, which has limited powers to set policy in a number of areas, including health and education.

Asghar was elected as the assembly's first Muslim and ethnic minority member in May last year.

Elis-Thomas's comments come after Prosor wrote in a newspaper article Tuesday that Britain has become a "hotbed for radical anti-Israeli views" in recent years, particularly in universities.

The British, Israeli and US governments complained in May 2007 when members of the University and College Union voted to back a boycott of Israeli universities due to the occupation of Palestinian territories.

The initiative called on British academics to stop writing for journals published by Israeli universities and refuse travel to Israel for conferences. But the union was warned in September that such a boycott would be illegal.

http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jFqTFBeREZzZq4FwrgRwg0sZlkyw

Posted on 13-06-2008


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