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Goff wrong over Ashkenazi visit

Goff wrong over Ashkenazi visit

Foreign Minister Phil Goff's stated reasons for declining Major-General Gabi Ashkenazi's application for a visa are factually incorrect, ACT Foreign Affairs spokesman Ken Shirley said today.

"Mr Goff stated that the application was declined because Mr Ashkenazi was attending a public meeting. Nothing could be further from the truth," Mr Shirley said.

"Mr Ashkenazi was invited to New Zealand by the United Israel Appeal to address an invitation-only meeting in Auckland last Sunday evening. This was a fund raising event for a home for disadvantaged children in Israel.

"The United Israel Appeal as a matter of practice invite high profile Israelis, but Mr Ashkenazi stressed that his intention was to visit New Zealand in a private capacity.

"The Labour Government's policy, adopted last year, is to only scrutinise and challenge Israeli citizens on official business. This was clearly not the case in this instance".

Mr Shirley said the Government's move had created more unnecessary tension and breached fundamental civil liberties.

"The message that Labour is sending out is that Israeli citizens aren't welcome in this country yet Phil Goff is happy to strut the world stage holding hands with Yasser Arafat," Mr Shirley said.

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