Congressmen ask Clinton to protect Americans in flotilla

ByJORDANA HORN, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
June 28, 2011 17:32

6 Democrats send secretary of state letter asking her to work with Israeli gov't "to ensure safety of US citizens on board” 'Audacity of Hope'.




US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

hillary clinton_311 reuters. (photo credit:REUTERS/Tony Gentile)

NEW YORK – Six Democratic members of the US House of Representatives wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, asking her to “do everything in [her] power” to help “ensure the safety of all American citizens on board The Audacity of Hope.”

The Audacity of Hope is a US-flagged ship bearing 36 American passengers intending to participate in this week’s flotilla challenging Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza. Its passengers include Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Alice Walker, former US ambassador to Ecuador Samuel Hart, and Jewish activist Hedy Epstein.

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The flotilla is expected to consist of up to 15 vessels.

The six signatories are Dennis Kucinich of Ohio; William Lacy Clay of Missouri; Sam Farr, Bob Filner and Barbara Lee of California; and Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia.


Kucinich initiated the letter.

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“We request that you do everything in your power to work with the Israeli government to ensure the safety of the US citizens on board,” the letter said, adding that the signatories “urge all parties to practice maximum restraint and avoid violence.”

According to the letter, The Audacity of Hope’s organizers have stated that their cargo “is open to international inspection” and that they “are fully committed to nonviolence and the tenets of international law.”

Robert Naiman, policy director of Just Foreign Policy, issued a statement from Athens, Greece, on Tuesday, where he was preparing to sail to Gaza as a passenger on the US-flagged vessel.

“This letter is historic, marking the first time members of Congress have publicly expressed concern for the safety of the US passengers aboard The Audacity of Hope. This statement runs in stark contrast to Secretary of State Clinton’s false accusation that we are trying to ‘provoke action by entering into Israeli waters,’ when in fact we have every intention of sailing to Gaza peacefully and avoiding Israeli waters entirely. We hope Secretary Clinton heeds this request from Congress and speaks out against threats from the Israeli authorities to attack us in our effort to break the illegal blockade on the Gaza Strip.”

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