JERUSALEM, Jan. 25 (UPI) -- Belgian International Development Minister Charles Michel won't be allowed by Israel into Gaza for a visit, local media reported.
Israel Radio said Sunday night Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon denied the Belgian minister's request to be allowed into Gaza to monitor the delivery of humanitarian aid provided through a pair of United Nations agencies, The Jerusalem Post reported.
The newspaper quoted Ayalon as saying Michel was denied entry to avoid lending legitimacy to Hamas, the Palestinian militant group that controls the Gaza Strip, and because it would complicate negotiations to secure the release of kidnapped Israeli solider Gilad Shalit.
Meanwhile, Palestinian Authority officials have warned the European Union against moving towards offering Hamas any form of recognition, the Post reported.
The newspaper cited an unnamed senior PA official as complaining EU officials and citizens are "ignoring the fact that Hamas had staged a coup in the Gaza Strip" and suggested that contact with Hamas would harm reconciliation efforts between the two Palestinian sides and hurt the Middle East peace process.