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Friday, September 15, 2006

Response to China protest shows MK's trip coordinated with government

The Jerusalem Post reports this morning that China has made a formal protest over the visit by five MK's to Taiwan earlier this week. The government's reaction to this protest shows that the entire trip was coordinated with the government - probably for the reasons that I suggested earlier this week:
"The Chinese ambassador did in fact make a complaint," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev. "And our answer was the following: The Israeli government adheres strictly to a One China policy and we have no official contacts with Taiwan. And on this level, Israel is very strict, in accordance with our good relations with China."

Regev said Foreign Ministry officials explained to the ambassador that "in the Israeli form of government, the legislative branch is completely separate from the executive branch."

"We cannot tell members of Knesset where they can and cannot go," he said.
The reaction is disingenuous because - for obvious reasons - the government is relating quite differently to a visit by three MK's from the Balad party to Syria and Lebanon (they arrived in Lebanon last night). While the Balad MK's deserve harsher treatment, it is incorrect to say that the government cannot tell MK's not to travel somewhere - at least in their official capacities. It can - if it wants to. On a national level, it would be better if the government would restrict MK's from travelling in their official capacities. But that would require the government to own up to its actions. In China's case it does not want to do so, even though slapping China diplomatically was justified.


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