Countries look for MPs who might have been on ships

June 1, 2010 05:19

3 German Bundestag members, 1 Irish, 1 Swedish and a Kuwaiti MP – unaccounted for.

2 minute read.

reuven rivlin 248.88

reuven rivlin 248.88. (photo credit:Yossi Zamir)

As several nations tried to assess the status of citizens involved in the Free Gaza Flotilla on Monday, the well-being of a number of foreign MPs who had planned on joining the voyage remained unclear.

Among the lawmakers believed to have been on the six ships were three members of the German Bundestag, Irish senator Mark Daly, Swedish MP Mehmet Kaplan and Kuwaiti MP Waleed al-Tabtabaie.

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Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) told The Jerusalem Post that a number of his colleagues from other legislatures had contacted him regarding the morning’s events. Even Turkey contacted him through an intermediary following rumors that a Turkish MP was among the day’s casualties. Rivlin said that in all cases – other than that of MK Haneen Zoabi (Balad) – he deferred to the defense establishment, which has yet to publish information regarding the wounded and killed.

“MPs who went on those boats intended to harm the State of Israel, believing that we do not have a right to be in Gaza, and some think that we have no right to be in Israel at all,” said Rivlin.

He added that he did not think that there would be questions regarding the foreign legislators’ rights to parliamentary immunity. Those who were not involved in violent acts will simply be deported to their home countries.

In the short term, Rivlin continued, the international standing of the flotilla’s participants – and maybe even of some of the casualties – could cause Israel damage.

“It could be that among those killed or wounded are parliamentarians, which will raise more than a bit of discussion. But after the initial clouds pass, there will be attempts to explain that this activity was an action designed to serve terrorists. Everyone understands that Gaza has become a front for terror and that Israel is trying to defend its security.”

The foreign MPs were far from the only internationally recognized figures believed to be involved in the voyage. According to the Free Gaza Movement, the Irish delegation on the flotilla included Nobel Peace laureate Mairead Maguire, a frequent visitor to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who participated in previous attempts to break the blockade and was deported from Israel. Former UN assistant-secretary-general Denis Halliday was also listed by the Free Gaza Movement as participating in the flotilla.

International Solidarity Movement co-founder Huwaida Arraf, the wife of ISM activist Adam Shapiro, was also reported to be part of the flotilla, and, like the other members of the initiative, remains unaccounted-for.

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