Lebanese ship delays departure to Gaza

By
August 23, 2010 03:49

Jerusalem: "Low probability" it will try to break naval blockade.

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SAMAR AL-HAJJ, organizer of a Lebanese effort to break the blockade of Gaza, meets the press at Trip

Lebanese ship 311. (photo credit: AP)

One of two Lebanese ships due to sail to Gaza in order to break Israel’s naval blockade postponed its departure again on Sunday, amid assessments in Jerusalem that there was now only a “low probability” that it would indeed depart.

Diplomatic officials in Jerusalem said Sunday that both Cyprus and Greece had been “forthcoming” in keeping the cargo ship, the Bolivian-flagged Mariam, from setting sail from one of their ports.

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AFP reported that Samar al-Hajj, one of the organizers of the new anti-blockade effort, told a news conference in Tripoli that the “trip has not been canceled but delayed.”

The organizers were still waiting for permission to use a third country as a transit point from which it could set sail for Gaza. Since Lebanon is officially at war with Israel, it is against Lebanese law for ships to sail from there directly to the Jewish state. For that reason, the organizers are looking for a third country that will allow it to use of one of its ports. So far, Greece and Cyprus have refused.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened a meeting on Sunday of his senior ministers, the forum known as the septet, to discuss the matter. Government sources said after the meeting that while Israel was “making all the preparations” to deal with the ship if it did indeed set sail, the feeling was that there was now only a low likelihood that this would take place.

Israel has linked the organizers, who have been talking about setting sail for Gaza since early June with some 50 women, a number of journalists and “humanitarian aid,” to Hizbullah.

Jerusalem has been working intensely behind the scenes to get the international community to place pressure on Lebanon and a number of third countries to prevent the ship from setting sail.


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