Israel accepts Greek offer to transport flotilla’s aid to Gaza; ships due to depart Monday
As part of compromise intended to end flotilla affair, Greece offers to transport humanitarian aid to Gaza using Greek governmental ships; flotilla organizers: Move will not end siege.
Israel has agreed to the Greek government's offer Sunday to send the flotilla’s humanitarian aid to Gaza with Greek diplomats, under UN supervision. The offer is intended to serve as a compromise in order to end the flotilla affair.
According to a separate report, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also expressed support for the Greece government’s offer.
According to the Greek initiative, the humanitarian aid aboard flotilla ships will be loaded onto watercraft of the Greek government and transferred to Gaza via the organized channels, as was requested by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon two weeks ago. This means the aid would go through either the Ashdod port or Arish, and from there be taken to the Gaza Strip under the supervision of Greek and UN authorities.
The Greek government has already approached the United Nations and Israel to assess the possibility of transferring the humanitarian aid via Israel or Egypt to the Gaza Strip using Greek governmental ships, under UN supervision.
“The initiative is likely to give everyone a way out, including the flotilla organizers, and allow everyone to feel as though they got part of what they wanted,” said a source from the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
The Greek Foreign Ministry issued a statement on Sunday afternoon that “certain groups of Greek and foreign citizens, without having received the necessary permission required according to the rules of safety, insisted to go through with the enterprise.”
These people, the Greek Foreign Ministry said, were attempting to break the Gaza blockade, despite the UN Secretary-General’s request.
European Union’s recommendations reflected in the conclusions of the European Council, the Quartet’s relevant appeal on Saturday and the Greek Foreign Ministry’s urging not to participate in the flotilla.
“In light of these developments and concerned primarily with the protection and safety of human life, the Greek Government decided to ban the departure from Greek ports of vessels with Greek or foreign flags bound for Gaza”, said the Greek Foreign Ministry, adding that “Greece’s stance regarding the need to lift the Gaza blockade and to improve the humanitarian conditions in the area is known and remains unchanged.”
“In this critical conjuncture, we should all demonstrate a sense of responsibility or assume entirely and exclusively the responsibility for our actions. The Government will act as it must in an orderly fashion and according to the laws of the State,” concluded the statement.
The flotilla ships anchored in Greek ports are to depart Monday. The decision was made on Saturday, and all passengers were instructed to board the boats with their belongings and prepare for the journey. The announcement did not indicate the destination.