Israeli General Refused NZ Visa

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

New Zealand

Israel's Deputy Chief of Staff Major-General Gabi Ashkenazi has been refused entry to New Zealand, where he was due to attend a meeting of the United Israel Appeal in Auckland last Sunday.

An NZ Foreign Office spokesman confirmed that a visa had been refused, linking the decision to the unresolved diplomatic row over the conviction of two suspected Mossad members, Uri Kelman and Eli Cara, who attempted to fraudulently obtain a New Zealand passport - New Zealand is awaiting an official apology.

Jews in New Zealand are particularly upset, as the Iranian Foreign Minister Kamal Kharrazi visited New Zealand in August for talks with the NZ Government. Iran's stated goals include the destruction of Israel.

A spokesman for General Ashkenazi's office in Tel Aviv perferred to say that the general had decided not to visit New Zealand "for personal reasons", rather than admit to the denied visa.