Israel has turned in recent days to a number of Western governments requesting
they issue travel warnings to their nationals not to participate in additional
flotillas trying to break the naval blockade of Gaza, government officials told
The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.
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According to the officials, the requests
have fallen on attentive ears, especially since Hizbullah and Iran have said
they will send ships of their own, something that is causing some Western
governments to rethink the entire tactic.
At the same time, however, no
government has actually issued an advisory.
The security cabinet is
scheduled to meet Wednesday to discuss both how to deal with the
flotillas and how to ease restrictions on the goods and materials
Gaza. The meeting comes amid a growing sense in Jerusalem that a
decision by the
government to significantly ease up on what is allowed into Gaza through
crossings would bring about more cooperation by governments in
citizens from taking part in future attempts to break the
“Where there is a will, there is a way,” one senior Israeli
official said of the ability of Western governments to prevent
The significance of the travel advisories, the official
said, was that the minute a country recommended, for instance, that its
parliamentarians not take part in a flotilla, a parliamentarian who goes
and does so would be “on his own.”
That particular country, then, would
be less able to come with complaints and demands against Israel after an
since it had officially warned its citizens against participation.
nationals of 12 countries were involved in the attempt by the Turkish
to break the naval blockade.
Nine people were killed on the ship
after they attacked IDF soldiers dropped on board to keep it from
Gaza.Netanyahu expresses interest in easing blockade for civilian items
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has on a number of occasions in
recent days expressed an interest in easing up on civilian items allowed
the Gaza Strip, while keeping the naval blockade in place to keep
For the last three years, despite the objections of the
US, EU and Quartet, Israel has controlled what is allowed into Gaza as
part of a
policy to weaken Hamas and free kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit. This
adopted by the Olmert government – has been roundly condemned by the
international community in the wake of the IDF raid on the Turkish
Late Tuesday evening, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a
statement saying that the Terkel Committee, which is looking into the
would convene on Wednesday for what was called an “introductory
The time and place were not specified.
Micha Lindenstrauss notified the Knesset’s State Control Committee that
intends to investigate the events surrounding the raid, Israel Radio
His investigation will focus mainly on the government’s
decision-making process, intelligence and public diplomacy.George Mitchell to arrive on Thursday
restrictions on the Gaza Strip is expected to be a high priority item in
discussions US envoy George Mitchell will hold over the next few days.
is expected to arrive on Wednesday night and hold a day of talks with
officials on Thursday, and with Palestinian officials on Friday, before
going to Egypt over the weekend for talks there as well.
talks with the Palestinians that Mitchell is mediating have been
overshadowed over the last two weeks by the flotilla raid and the
Quartet envoy Tony Blair, who has met Netanyahu three times in the
last 10 days to discuss Gaza, said Monday after briefing EU foreign
meeting in Luxembourg that he hoped the blockade would “be eased within
The key, Blair said, “is to shift from a list of goods that are
Gaza to a list of goods that are prohibited from entering, such as
combat material, so that anything that is not on the list of prohibited
allowed to enter.
“The prohibition on the entry of weapons and combat
material should of course remain in place, and Israel is justified in
check items that go into Gaza to ensure that such items are kept out,”
Blair said that after holding intensive talks with Netanyahu, he
believed that “Israel has agreed in principle to move to such a
From Blair’s comments it was also possible to conclude that Israel
would likely okay the transfer of building materials such as steel and
into Gaza for UN infrastructure projects, once a mechanism was in place
would “ensure that the goods that enter for those projects are used for
Israel has up until now prohibited these materials
from entering Gaza out of a concern they would be diverted to Hamas and
build bunkers and factories for the manufacturing of Kassam
rockets.Israel monitoring reports of boats coming from Iran and Lebanon
Meanwhile, Israel – according to sources in the Prime Minister’s
Office – was carefully following reports that boats to break the
be coming from Lebanon and Iran.
“We don’t know how much of the threats
are real, and how much are bravado,” one official said.
According to the
official, Iran and Lebanon are “hostile countries,” and if there had
been a need
to intercept the Rachel Corrie ship from Ireland some 10 days ago, “how
more of a need will there be to intercept a ship from a hostile
Among those threatening to break the blockade with an aid ship
is a group of Lebanese women, led by the wife of an imprisoned Lebanese
Samar Hajj, whose husband Ali Hajj has been in jail for four
years in connection with the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese prime
minister Rafik Hariri, declared that the female activists were “all
women who believe in breaking the siege on Gaza.”
She stated that she and
the 50 other women who had signed up as passengers on the ship Mariam
and Christians alike – were not associated with Hizbullah and had no
“This has nothing to do with Hizbullah, although it is an
honor for us to be supporters of the resistance,” she said.
continuing fallout from the Mavi Marmara
episode, there were a number of
Tuesday that the Turkish government was weighing various measures if
failed to apologize.
Among the steps reportedly being considered were a
downgrading, and perhaps severing, of diplomatic ties with Israel; no
allowing Israeli ships of any kind to dock in Turkish ports; denying
visas to visiting Israelis; and cutting all bilateral economic,
academic and cultural ties.Hilary Leila Krieger contributed to this
report from Washington.