The 'Mavi Marmara' 311 (R).
(photo credit: Reuters/Emrah Dalkaya)
With Israel eager to leave a paper trail showing it warned world leaders to
prevent another IHH Gaza flotilla, Jerusalem’s envoy to the UN, Meron Reuben,
sent a letter on Thursday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urging him to make
public statements against participation in the action.
“In the past year,
the United Nations, under your leadership, played an important role in
preventing the launch of provocative flotillas by extremist elements in
Lebanon,” the letter read.
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“A clear message from you and other leaders in
the international community on the subject of the anticipated flotilla can have
a positive influence in preventing the unnecessary escalation of tension in our
Reuben recommended a scheduled April 21 debate in the
Security Council on the Middle East as “one possible forum for raising the
Both President Shimon Peres and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
have made similar appeals to Ban in recent weeks, as Israel is stepping up its
diplomatic efforts to try and keep the flotilla from setting
“Israel,” Reuben wrote, “is not interested in confrontation but is
firmly determined to enforce the naval blockade – and will continue to remain
closely engaged with other members of the international community to try and
halt this unnecessary provocation.”
Reuben said that the protest
flotilla, which may include some 15 ships and more than 1,000 people, is set to
include “numerous participants” who have made “very troubling statements
expressing their willingness to become martyrs in this effort,” adding that the
chairman of the Turkish based IHH, Bulent Yildrim, said in a recent speech that
Zionism is “like a virus that has infected all of humanity.”
said that the blockade of the Gaza Strip remained in force, and that any vessel
trying to breach it “may be subject to naval action to enforce the blockade, in
accordance with international law applicable to armed conflicts at
The reason for the blockade, Reuben reiterated, was to prevent the
illicit trafficking of arms and ammunition to the Gaza Strip, such as occurred
on March 18 with the interdiction of the Victoria and its shipment of arms from
Iran and Syria to terrorist groups in Gaza.
“It is clear that this
anticipated flotilla is designed to serve as a political provocation and not to
advance a humanitarian goal, Reuben wrote, pointing out that there were
established mechanisms through which humanitarian aid could be delivered to the
The flotilla is organizing to set sail at the end of May,
marking the one-year anniversary to the Mavi Marmara incident – the first Gaza
flotilla where nine Turks were killed when they attacked IDF commandos trying to
keep their ship from reaching Gaza’s shores.
Back then the prime minister
was on a visit to Canada. Netanyahu may be out of the country this time as well,
since he is scheduled to be in Washington during the last week of
Turkey said on Thursday it had received a request from Israel to
help stop the flotilla, but it said the plan was not Ankara’s
“We listened to the message given by the Israeli side and told
them this is an initiative by civil society, ” a Turkish Foreign Ministry
official told Reuters without elaborating.Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.
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