RAMALLAH  - A meeting of international envoys due to be held in the West Bank to show support for the Palestinian leadership was scrapped on Sunday after Israel refused to admit attendees from four countries, Palestinian officials said.

The meeting involved high-level representatives from the Non-Aligned Movement, a group of states that aims to represent the interests of the developing world.

They were due to sign a declaration backing the Palestinians ahead of their fresh campaign to win recognition as a state at the United Nations next month.

Israel barred the foreign ministers of Malaysia and Indonesia along with ambassadors from Cuba and Bangladesh on the grounds the four countries do not recognize the Jewish state. Their exclusion from the Israeli-occupied West Bank starkly underlined the limits of Palestinian autonomy.

Palestinian officials said the other conference guests, including the foreign ministers of Egypt and Zimbabwe, had waited in neighboring Jordan for clearance to travel.

Israeli clearance was granted but in the end they declined to attend, in solidarity with those prevented from taking part, the officials said.

“The goal of this decision, which was issued at the highest political echelons in Israel, is to thwart the efforts of the Palestinian leadership to achieve more successes for the benefit of Palestinians and its efforts to end the occupation,” Palestinian foreign minister Riyad al-Malki told reporters.

But Israel was unapologetic about its decision. “We have cleared entry for representatives of countries which have diplomatic relations with Israel and we have not cleared those which do not,” said foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor.

Israel controls access to the West Bank, which can be reached via the main checkpoint outside Jerusalem on the road coming up from Ben Gurion International Airport, or at the Allenby Bridge over the Jordan River, on the road from Amman.

Palestinians are listed as a UN observer “entity” with no voting rights. They will ask to be made a non-member observer state at the UN General Assembly on September 27, foreign minister Malki said on Saturday. Once that was achieved, he said, the Palestinians would pursue full UN membership.

Whereas, Israel’s UN envoy said the Palestinians’ bid to upgrade their status at the United Nations would find majority support there but would not bring them closer to statehood and peace with Israel.

Citing stalled peacemaking and Israeli settlement-building on occupied West Bank land where they seek sovereign independence, the Palestinians said on Saturday they would renew a bid to win UN recognition as a state.

Ron Prosor, the Israeli ambassador to the United Nations, accused the Palestinians of trying to recapture international attention that has shifted to crises in Iran, Egypt and Syria.

“There is an attempt (by the Palestinians) to make unilateral moves in order to internationalize the conflict,” Prosor told Israel Radio in a telephone interview.

“But beyond what are perhaps the feelings of frustration, it is important to remember that the path to peace really is through the negotiating table with Israel.”

Non-member observer status, akin to the Vatican’s, would be an indirect recognition of their claims on statehood in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip. It would allow them to join a number of UN agencies, and the International Criminal Court.

Israel opposes the move as hostile, saying there is no substitute for direct negotiation in solving the Middle East conflict.