'Gov't did not respond hysterically to air flotilla'

Deputy PM Meridor says foreign activists who evaded authorities and later clashed with soldiers at roadblocks proves preparation justified.

By JPOST.COM STAFF
July 9, 2011 18:01
2 minute read.
Dan Meridor

Dan Meridor 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

Minister of Intelligence and Atomic Energy Dan Meridor on Saturday defended the government against claims it overreacted to the "air flotilla" to Ben-Gurion Airport.

"There was no hysteria in the handling of the air flotilla," Meridor said in an interview with Channel 2. "We handled it with smart and considered action," he added.

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Meridor stated that the actions of those air flotilla activists who managed to evade Israel's immigration authorities and enter Israel proved the danger that the participants posed and that their intentions were to disturb public order. "Those who came here did not go to Ramallah or Bethlehem, they went to a roadblock to clash with soldiers," he stated.

Pro-Palestinian activists that managed to pass border control at Ben-Gurion Airport as part of the "air flotilla" arrived in the West Bank on Saturday and were present for clashes with security forces in Nabi Saleh, Channel 2 reported.

"Welcome to Palestine" organizers said that fly-in activists would be participating in events marking the anniversary of the International Court of Justice's ruling on the West Bank security barrier.

The majority of activists were prevented from arriving to Israel in foreign airports, but 124 activists who landed at Ben-Gurion airport were detained in prisons around the country and were awaiting deportation.



Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon thanked European countries on Saturday for helping to limit the number of pro-Palestinian activists arriving at Ben-Gurion Airport. Ayalon said that "Israel thanks the European countries for their assistance and cooperation in preventing the provocative 'air flotilla' that was planned."

"Again [Israel] proved that contrary to conventional thought, [it] is not isolated and is a reputable player in the international community," the deputy foreign minister added. Ayalon said, "no country would allow a violation of its sovereignty and laws, not by local law breakers and certainly not by foreigners."

Meridor called the air flotilla part of a "fascinating new strategy", being employed by the Palestinians and in the Arab world in general, by which non-violence instead of force was being used to achieve goals. "This strategy works, we saw it in Tahrir Square in Egypt...the answer is not military."

Meridor rejected claims that the government's failure to advance the diplomatic process with the Palestinians has caused actions against Israel such as the air flotilla, the sea flotilla to break the blockade of Gaza, or pro-Palestinian activists storming Israel's borders on Nakba Day and Naksa Day.

"We are trying to get the Palestinians back to the negotiating table," Meridor stated, blaming the Palestinians for the stagnation of the peace process.

"Netanyahu gave a speech to the Knesset prior to his last trip to Washington in which he laid out a base  for negotiations which can lead to an agreement," said Meridor, emphasizing that the prime minister had stated Israel's position that in an agreement the Jewish State would retain Jerusalem, the settlement blocs and maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley.


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