Out­rage in Is­rael as Arab MP urges join­ing flotilla to break Gaza block­ade

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

An an­nounce­ment by an Arab Is­raeli law­maker that he plans to join a pro-Pales­tinian flotilla seek­ing to break Is­rael’s block­ade on Gaza caused out­rage Mon­day among the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal class.

Basel Ghat­tas, an MP with the Joint Arab List, sparked con­tro­versy af­ter he an­nounced he would join other par­lia­men­tar­i­ans and public fig­ures from around the world in the latest at­tempt to reach Gaza by ship later this month.

The Gaza Strip has been sub­jected to an Is­raeli block­ade for nine years, which in­cludes a com­plete ban on ships en­ter­ing or leav­ing the coastal en­clave’s wa­ters.

Pro-Pales­tinian ac­tivists have re­peat­edly tried to reach the Ha­mas-run ter­ri­tory by sea but have been blocked by the Is­raeli navy.

In May 2010, Is­raeli com­man­dos staged a botched raid on a six-ship flotilla which ended in blood­shed that claimed the lives of 10 Turk­ish na­tion­als and sparked a cri­sis with Ankara.

Hanin Zuabi, a fe­male ArabIs­raeli MP who was on board at the time, was roundly de­nounced by the Is­raeli po­lit­i­cal es­tab­lish­ment as a traitor — with Ghat­tas now fac­ing a sim­i­lar out­cry.

“It is the gravest thing pos­si­ble that an Is­raeli MP would join the flotilla whose aim is to help the Ha­mas terror or­ga­ni­za­tion,” said Immigration Min­is­ter Zeev Elkin from the rul­ing rightwing Likud party.

“Is­raeli law does not al­low any­one to serve in par­lia­ment who sup­ports a terror or­ga­ni­za­tion,” he railed in an in­ter­view with army ra­dio.

Deputy For­eign Min­ster Tzipi Ho­tovely said that join­ing the at­tempt to run the block­ade was ev­i­dence Ghat­tas was work­ing against Is­rael.

“The par­tic­i­pa­tion of an Arab Is­raeli MP along­side those who want to fight against Is­rael is a demon­stra­tion of ac­tiv­ity in the ser­vice of the en­emy un­der the spon­sor­ship of par­lia­men­tary im­mu­nity,” she said in a state­ment late Sun­day.

She said the for­eign min­istry had been work­ing to pre­vent the flotilla from reach­ing Is­rael’s ter­ri­to­rial wa­ters.

Ghat­tas on Mon­day re­peated his de­mand that the “free­dom flotilla” be al­lowed to reach Gaza peace­fully, adding that suf­fer­ing by res­i­dents of the strip was be­ing ne­glected.

“The cen­tral is­sue here is the fact that the Is­raeli public is try­ing to ig­nore the fact that there are two mil­lion Pales­tini­ans just 50 kilo­me­ters (30 miles) from Tel Aviv liv­ing in dis­grace­ful poverty and hunger,” he told army ra­dio.

The flotilla of two main ves­sels and three smaller boats is ex­pected to try to reach Gaza be­fore the end of the month.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.