Israel Accepts Greek Deal to Bring Cargo to Gaza

Offer calls for loading aid onto ships owned by Greek government, bringing it to Gaza through accepted channels, as requested two weeks ago by UN Chief Ban Ki-moon.

The Greek government yesterday proposed a compromise over the Gaza aid flotilla to both Jerusalem and the organizers of the operation, under which UN-supervised Greek diplomats would transport the humanitarian aid on the boats to the Gaza Strip.

Israel accepted this offer, however, flotilla organizers had not responded by press time.

Flotilla supporters

The offer calls for loading the aid onto ships owned by the Greek government and bringing it to Gaza through accepted channels, as requested two weeks ago by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. The ships would dock either in Ashdod or the Egyptian port of el-Arish, and the goods transported to Gaza under Greek and UN supervision.

Athens has contacted Israel and the UN in connection to the plan.

"The initiative could give everyone a way out, including the flotilla organizers, and enable everyone to feel they got some of what they wanted," a source in the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said yesterday.

In a statement issued yesterday afternoon, Greece's Foreign Ministry explained its reasons for banning the flotilla's ships from sailing from the country's ports.

"Despite the request of the Secretary General of the United Nations, the recommendations of the EU reflected in the conclusions of the European Council, yesterday's relevant appeal of the Quartet and the Greek Foreign Ministry's urging not to participate in the flotilla attempting to break the Gaza blockade, 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.

"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.

"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."