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Thursday, July 05, 2012

Israeli diplomat asked to leave energy forum in Cyprus

This outrageous story from last week was universally ignored, and it shouldn't have been. From the Cyprus Mail:
ISRAEL'S Ambassador to Cyprus was rather indecorously asked to leave an Energy Forum yesterday after the Lebanese Energy Minister complained to organisers.

Israeli ambassador Michael Harari, attending the 2nd Levant Energy Forum by special invitation, arrived at the venue - the University of Cyprus - around 10am.

At 11.15am, on schedule, President Christofias arrived with Gebran Bassil, Lebanon's Minister of Energy and Water Resources.

According to the agenda - which had been set well in advance - Christofias was to give a keynote speech, immediately followed by Bassil, whose address concerned the future of Lebanon as an energy producer.

Moments before the President was due to step inside the room, the attendees - industry delegates and media people - had been asked to stand up. It turned out to be a false alarm, because the crowd were then asked to retake their seats and to wait for the next cue to rise - which happened a couple of minutes later.

In the meantime, it seems, Harari was approached by organisers and asked to leave. He was told the Lebanese minister on arriving informed them he would not deliver his speech unless and until Harari left.

Once the Israeli ambassador exited the room, Christofias and Bassil walked in.
Harari confirmed he was asked to decamp the premises at the insistence of the Lebanese Energy Minister.

"It is a pity that it happened," Harari later told the Cyprus Mail.

"I decided to leave in order not to embarrass the President," he said, adding: "The organisers should have handled it differently."
I'm not so sure that keeping this quiet was a smart idea for Israeli diplomacy. Both the conference organizers and Lebanese acted despicably and their actions should be deplored. Harari could have just said he'd love to hear what Israel's northern neighbor has to say and let the Lebanese minister make a fool of himself. No one would blame Harari for refusing to leave, not even Cyprus' president.

And as we can see, even the Cypriot press was on Israel's side.

UPDATE: Israellycool covered it.