Mixed reaction to flotilla in Germany

Day dominated by protests in Europe; Merkel to PM: Lift blockade.

By JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
June 1, 2010 21:26
3 minute read.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel

German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Israel's interception of a flotilla carrying relief goods aiming to break the blockade of Hamas-controlled Gaza prompted German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday to call Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, urging him to end the restrictions on the Strip.

In her statement, Merkel said, “I have asked the Israeli prime minister to lift the blockade of Gaza, because it is not good, for humanitarian reasons. At the same time, however, one must say that Hamas would do well to finally recognize Israel's right to exist.”

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Merkel urged the Turkish government to defuse the situation. "We are deeply concerned, also by the possibility that it could lead to an escalation. For that reason, I have asked Turkish Prime Minister [Recep Tayyip Erdogan] to do everything to prevent such an escalation,” said Merkel.

“Proportionality is an important international requirement. According to our current knowledge, we must seriously ask whether it was adhered to. It is possible that it was not adhered to," she stressed. “We still do not have sufficient information. I have asked that the information be made available as quickly as possible, and have of course also asked for information as quickly as possible about the Germans on board."

'German Left Party advocates support for Hamas, Hizbullah'

A spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that there were 11 Germans aboard the convoy, including two members of the German parliament from the Left Party.



The spokesman said the two Left Party members of parliament, Inge Höger and Annette Groth— who were aboard the Mavi Marmara— arrived with three German activists on Tuesday in Berlin. According to political observers in Germany, many parliamentary members of the Left Party advocate support for Hamas and Hizbullah.

The German Foreign Ministry asked Israel's Ambassador in Berlin, Yoram Ben-Zeev, to appear on Monday for talks regarding the “fate of the Germans” aboard the seized vessels and clarification with respect to the incident at sea. German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said two officials from the country's Tel Aviv embassy were at the Ashdod port, seeking clarifications regarding the fate of the German citizens. Westerwelle also spoke on Monday with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Thomas von der Osten-Sacken, an author who has written on NGOs in the Middle East and who also heads the relief organization Wadi, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that European countries,including Germany, rushed to issue one-sided statements  blaming Israel “without waiting for information from the Israeli side.” He termed it the “Jenin effect,” a reference to  false media reports (BBC) and NGO reports (Amensty International) regarding Israel's operation Defensive Shield in April 2002 against Palestinian terrorists within the Jenin refugee camp. Reports about an Israeli massacre in Jenin turned out to be fabricated, but were promulgated by anti-Israeli activists.


Von der Osten-Sacken said Merkel's statements were a “clear violation of her moderate stance on the Israeli-Palestinian situation.” During the IDF's Operation Cast Lead in late 2008 and early 2009, the German Chancellor was the only European leader to unconditionally support Israel's right to self defense against Hamas missile attacks on its southern periphery.

He said it is “very weird" that Merkel was calling for an end to the blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza while the German Interior  Ministry has deemed “Hamas to be a terrorist organization determined to destroy Israel.” Von der Osten-Sacken argued that a lifting of the blockade would “open the shores of Gaza to Iran” and “there would be no way to control” shipments to Hamas. “Gaza is run by a terrorist, anti-Semitic organization,” he said.

Meanwhile, anti-Israeli groups called for protests in Berlin on Tuesday against what they termed Israel's "massacre" aboard the Mavi Marmara. At demonstration took place on Monday in Frankfurt, Turkish and Palestinian flags were waved, including a banner terming Israel a "murderer." Similar protests took place in Turkey, France and Sweden.

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