US & Israel Pressuring Greece to Stop US Boat to Gaza From Leaving Port?


Will somebody please tell me what right the State Dept. has to try to prevent human rights activists from sailing in international waters?

This does not impact the U.S. The ships are not sailing from US shores, they are not government-authorized ships and they are a humanitarian group engaging in civil disobedience! To treat this as though it’s a full scale terror attack on Israel is really unbecoming an administration that claims to care about human rights.

I know I’m like a dog with a bone about this but the fact is, for me, the State Department’s actions are personal.

I am so disappointed in the State Department. Their actions are so over-the-top that if I didn’t know better I’d think that AIPAC was in charge right now. As a Hillary fan I keep trying to make excuses for her “it’s not her fault,” “she’s just following orders,” “it’s really Obama,” but honestly, I still don’t feel persuaded by my own attempts at rationalizing the State Department’s actions.

Even though there is tremendous domestic pressure on the Obama administration [from the Lobby and Jewish groups] to speak out against the Flotilla, they could have done so that made it clear that a) the protection of American citizens is always a top priority and b) that both sides should demonstrate the utmost restraint. No one expects the administration to don pom-poms and celebrate the Flotilla to Gaza, but as I have said repeatedly, many in the human rights community and the independent media are interpreting Secretary Clinton’s statements from last Thursday and Friday as a green light for Israel to use any means necessary to stop the Flotilla, all in the name of self-defense.

There is a concerted effort by the Lobby to portray Flotilla participants and their supporters as pro-terrorist, anti-Israel and anti-Semitic. It’s all nonsense. By portraying them as supporters of Hamas as opposed to a humanitarian group, they are providing not only a narrative but a casus belli where Israel can respond militarily with as much force as it deems necessary.

From J-Post:

The navy plans to stop the flotilla far from Gaza, after issuing a warning that the territory is under a sea blockade.

“If the ships continue sailing after being warned, then we will have the right to stop them even if they did not yet enter Gaza’s territorial waters,” a defense official explained.

Also on Sunday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet for final briefings from top naval officials and security officials on the Gaza-bound flotilla.

The ministers heard intelligence reports regarding the number of vessels, the passengers on board, and what the ships are carrying. The government has declared that the flotilla will not be allowed to enter Gaza, but will rather – if necessary – be towed into Ashdod Port and the equipment on the ships impounded.

Israeli officials expressed satisfaction that Cyprus has banned the use of it ports for the enterprise, and that Greece and numerous other countries – such as the US, Canada, France and Australia – have issued strong warnings to their citizens not to participate.

[snip]

Before last year’s flotilla, diplomatic officials said, fewer statements against taking part were made by governments around the world, partly because the initiative was not seen as particularly significant.

[snip]

Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor, when asked how Israel will deal with foreigners who do take part in the current flotilla, said, “The same rules that applied last year still apply now: There is a naval blockade on Gaza. It is obviously forbidden to breach it. Those who do, or who manifest their intention to deliberately do so, will not be allowed to proceed and will be treated according to the San Remo Manual and relevant Security Council resolutions.”

The San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea is a codification of customary international law.

Ok, a couple of things about the parts I highlighted:

1. It is clear that Israel again plans to board the ships in international waters, which is illegal. They can do that in their own territorial waters, but they can’t just harass/board. /attack a civilian ship in international waters.

2. No, The San Remo Manual does not apply in this situation. See here.

3. There is something a tad ironic about Israel invoking UN Security Council resolutions. You know, given they tend to see adhering to them as optional. For example, Resolution 446, an excerpt of which is below:

(The Council) Determines that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace in the Middle East; Calls once more upon Israel, as the occupying power, to abide scrupulously by the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to rescind it’s previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographical nature and materially affecting the demographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, and in particular, not to transfer parts of its own civilian population into the occupied Arab territories…

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Attorney, Publisher, Foreign Policy wonk

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8 Comments on “US & Israel Pressuring Greece to Stop US Boat to Gaza From Leaving Port?”

  1. Carolyn-Rodham Says:

    I share your total disgust. Here was the Israeli response to suggestions that it had anything to do with attempts to torpedo the Audacity before it leaves port:
     
    “Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor dismissed the allegations suggesting Israel had something to do with Athens decision: ‘These are paranoid and crybaby allegations, which goes to demonstrate the organizers infantile viewpoint and just how far detached they are from reality.'”

    Uh-huh.

    I find it intetesting that 10 ships are sailing, but so far not the Audacity — I assume because a boatful of Americans, none of whome can be serioysly characterized as terrorists, would pose special problems for Israel. Not a great PR photo op. If I were on the Audacity, I’d get on one of those 10 boats that are sailing and see if Greece dares to call them unseaworthy.

    Reply

  2. Stacy Says:

    For Israel to call other people paranoid and a crybaby (?) is too funny. Israel is always running crying to the US to fix their problems. Have you noticed how immature Israel always sounds? They are incapable of engaging in any positive diplomacy, preferring instead to treat every criticism or action as if it threatens their existence. The fetishization of victimhood on their part is unseemly and weak.

    Of course Israel is pressuring Greece, as is the US. I’ve seen tweets today about how Greece has admitted being pressured. Israel’s propaganda shop has no problem lying outright to everyone- again, no accountability on that front.

    Also, on Haaretz, it says the Israeli foreign ministry admits it knows there are no people with links to terrorism on board any of the ships and that they know they are not carrying contraband and that it could make for a PR problem for Israel. But everyone is still trying to paint the participants as radical supporters of terrorism.

    I wish the NYT, WaPo etc. would post pictures of these dangerous alleged terrorists in their papers and on their websites- Hedy Epstein, Alice Walker, Medea Benjamin etc. It would sort of make both Israel and the US’ fear-mongering look rather silly in that both countries have spent about 99% of their time over the last week trying to prevent a bunch of older men and women from sailing to Gaza.

    Can you imagine how much better things would be if we actually had a truly free press that actually did their job? That would be refreshing.

    Reply

  3. thainjacobs Says:

    Hopefully the press at today’s State Dept. daily press briefing will get some answers about all this. I read the transcript of Friday’s briefing and the reports were asking unusually good questions- they wanted to know if the State Dept considered the blockade legal, they brought up Clinton’s support for Saudi Drivers and pointed out that the women protesting the driving ban were engaging in illegal, provocative actions- they wanted to know if the Secretary was opposed to all provocative actions or just those involving the Palestinians. For the first time in a long time I felt the media were asking important (although obvious) questions. Of course most of the questions were from Matt Lee who seems to be the only one willing to ever challenge this administration’s policies towards Israel. That press briefing was all over Twitter.

    So I’m going to read today’s transcript when it gets posted on state.gov and I hope those reporters follow up with their questions and get some information on the US role in preventing the US ship from leaving port. I hope Matt Lee continues to ask questions because this administration’s hypocrisy is galling.

    Reply

  4. seamus6 Says:

    I’m glad to say the Irish govt is the only one so far to denounce Israel’s threat to journalists and the only country to demand Israel show restraint and allow safe passage of the flotilla.

    Here are some of my fellow countrymen responding to the state dept’s “provocation” comments:

    Reply

  5. JasonF Says:

    State Dept again said Israel has the right to self defense and to stop arms smuggling?!? Who is smuggling arms? The US knows w/ the Lobby and Jewish organizations behind them they can just make this kind of lazy sh*t up. They also said something condescending that implied they, the State Dept, know what the people of Gaza want & what will help them the most.

    It’s nice that Clinton is just repeating the AIPAC bullet points. I’m sure her friend Haim
    Saban is happy she’s carrying Bibi’s water. I think it’s a requirement for a top govt job to put Israel’s interests above those if the US.

    I’d like to ask her exactly what rights she thinks the Palestinians do have? Seriously I’d love to hear her answer. I’d ask that sellout Obama the same thing.

    Did you hear that for the past few yrs the FBI/Justice Dept have been secretly investigating and now prosecuting American pro-Palestinian activists under a ridiculously broad and politicized reading of the law barring giving aid to terrorists? Stacy, you should post about that there’s an article up on Al Jazeera English today about it.

    McCarthy anyone?

    Reply

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