LONDON – Plans for a new protest flotilla to Gaza are “an act of provocation”
against the State of Israel and should be strongly condemned by the European
Union, two prominent members of the European Parliament said on
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MEPs Charles Tannock and Peter van Dalen from the European
Conservatives and Reformists group in the Parliament both condemned the
initiative, which is being planned for the end of May, to coincide with the
anniversary of last year’s flotilla incident, but which may be
Anti-Israel activists plan to join the Turkish Islamist IHH
organization in another attempt to break the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
It is believed that they plan to embark from a Mediterranean country other than
Turkey, with up to 15 vessels and 1,500 people from an array of
“This flotilla is deliberately intended to provoke Israel into
a response,” Dr. Tannock, a British MEP and the European Conservatives and
Reformists’ foreign affairs spokesman, said. “Given that Israel faces a daily
threat from terrorist attacks by Hamas, it is well within its rights to take
necessary action and impose a naval blockade to prevent weapons and other
terrorist resources from entering the Gaza Strip.
community was very swift to chastise Israel for its actions against the Mavi
Marmara last year.
This flotilla is deliberately intending to again
provoke a response from Israel, and this incredibly irresponsible and hostile
action must be condemned by the EU and High Representative Baroness [Catherine]
Ashton,” Tannock said.
Van Dalen, whose party in the Dutch parliament has
called for the Dutch government to take action at EU level, said: “A peaceful
settlement in the Middle East will not be assisted by deliberately provocative
and incendiary acts from left-wing groups intent on making a political
“Israel has already eased the blockade on Gaza and there is
evidence that it has taken steps to ensure the passage of humanitarian
assistance to those who need it,” he said.
“If these groups attempt to
run the blockade, then they should not be surprised by the response they will
receive. Israel has a right to defend itself,” van Dalen said.
proposed flotilla was also criticized by EU foreign policy chief Ashton.
Speaking in Strasbourg on Wednesday, she said living conditions in Gaza are
“awful” in part owing to the Israeli blockade, but added: “I don’t consider a
flotilla to be the right response.”
Meanwhile, the Amsterdam- based group
European Jews for a Just Peace has called for activists to take part in the
proposed flotilla but warned there was a risk of violence.
material read: “You will have to set aside sufficient time for being at the port
of departure, somewhere in the east Mediterranean, on board and then in Israel
before (most likely) being deported.
“There is a risk of violence and the
likelihood of being banned from entering Israel for 10 years, unless you’re an
Israeli citizen. You will also have to cover your own costs,” the group
“At last Israel is beginning to feel the heat over condemnations of
the blockade of Gaza and the refusal to negotiate a just Palestinian
settlement,” said Glyn Secker, a a member of the British group Jews for Justice
for Palestinians, in response to rumors surfacing that Israel may allow the new
flotilla to reach the Strip.
“As JfJfP we are proud, and as captain of
the Jewish Boat to Gaza last year, I’m very proud to have played a part in this.
It’s great that EJJP will be part of the May flotilla,” Secker said.
Tuesday, flotilla organizer Manuel Tapial told press at the EU Parliament in
Strasbourg that Willy Meyer, a left-wing Spanish eurodeputy, and Paul Murphy, a
left-wing Irish member, will be on two of the vessels.
anti-Israel activists have reportedly purchased a vessel to take part in the
flotilla. Other activists set to sail include former Fianna Fáil MP Chris
Andrews and his party colleague Sen. Mark Daly, Sinn Féin MP Aengus Ó Snodaigh,
Left Alliance MP Richard Boyd Barrett, Sinn Féin councillor Gerry MacLochlainn
and artist Felim Egan.
Most of the Irish activists support a blanket
boycott of Israel.
During Operation Cast Lead, Ó Snodaigh claimed that
Alan Shatter, a Jewish MP, and the Israeli ambassador had employed “propaganda,
twisted logic and half truths” in speaking to the Irish Parliament’s Committee
on Foreign Affairs. He also said that Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda
minister, would have been proud of such comments.
Andrews also referred
to Israel as a terror state. He also called for an economic, diplomatic and
political boycott of Israel and for its ambassador to be
Barrett said that Israel is “a state built on violence,
oppression and apartheid,” and “has no right to exist” as long as it denies
rights to Palestinians.