Mauritania’s military junta expelled Israeli diplomats and shut the embassy on Friday after freezing ties with the Jewish state over its invasion of Gaza.

Mauritania was one of only three Arab countries that had full diplomatic relations with Israel and the closure of the embassy in Nouakchott leaves just Egypt and Jordan.

Mauritania’s communications minister said the move was a result of a decision taken at a meeting of Arab leaders in Doha in mid-January following Israel’s invasion of Gaza.

“We informed them of the decision to suspend relations at the time of the summit in Doha, and it is now being executed,” El Kory Ould Abdel Mola told Reuters. “The embassy is closed.”

Another Mauritanian official said Israeli diplomats had been given 48 hours to leave the northwest African country. Staff were seen leaving the building.

“Israel has decided to close its embassy in Nouakchott,” the embassy said in a statement. “The ambassador is on vacation.”

An Israeli Foreign Ministry official who declined to be identified said he could not confirm the expulsion and suggested the timing of the decision could be linked to a planned visit to Nouakchott by Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.


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