South Korea has denied an official visit of Israeli President Reuven Rivlin to the country in a move that could trigger a diplomatic dispute between Tel Aviv and Seoul.
Israeli website Ynetnews reported the snub on Thursday, saying the visit had been planned to take place either this year or during the upcoming one.
Ynet, however, said the refusal was “undeniable,” and that it had left Tel Aviv “surprised.”
No explanations were provided for the decision, but the website suggested three potential causes for the snub.
It cited what Israeli officials have already described as South Korea’s “growing frustration” over Tel Aviv’s continued rejection of important security deals as one of the reasons prompting the put-down. As an instance of this, the news website cited Tel Aviv’s failure to let Hyundai build ships designed to guard Israel’s offshore natural gas drilling platforms and instead award the contract to Germany’s ThyssenKrupp.
It also cited Israeli sources as claiming that South Korea was refusing to streamline a free trade agreement to ease Israeli exporters’ operations in South Korea. The sources claim that the deal has already been approved by various forums and has been waiting for Seoul’s go-ahead for more than a year.
Thirdly, it pointed to the South Korea’s likely resentment at Israel’s refusal to congratulate Seoul on the summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un in April this year.
Ynet further highlighted the fact that South Korea was one of the 128 countries which voted in late 2017 against the United States recognition of the holy occupied city of Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s “capital” as another potential reason for denying President Rivlin a visit to Seoul.