PM to visit Israel, Jordan and Palestine
Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayake will undertake a five-day tour of Israel, Jordan and the Palestinian territory from March 23, sources said yesterday.
His tour is expected to include the contentious ancient city of Jerusalem holy to Jews, Muslims and Christians, but now held by Israel since occupying it in the six-day war of June 1967.
Mr. Wickramanayaka’s entourage is expected to include his secretary Mahinda Bandusena, who served as Sri Lanka’s first ambassador to Israel when full diplomatic relations were restored in the late 1990s by President Kumaratunga’s regime. Sri Lanka broke off relations with Israel after the six day war and they were partially restored by the J.R. Jayewardene regime in the early 1980s
In Palestine, sources said he is unlikely to visit the Gaza Strip now controlled by Hamas, but will definitely go to Ramallah, where the newly opened Sri Lankan embassy is located and the Palestinian Interim Council is based.