Libyan Aid Ship Extracts Concessions from Israel;
Resumption of House Demolitions in Jerusalem

Al-Sharq al-Awsat [The Middle East] reports in Arabic that the Libyan aid ship, Amaltheal (“Hope” or Amal in Arabic) docked late Wednesday at al-Arish in Egypt, bearing 2000 tons of aid supplies for the Palestinians.

The ship’s odyssey from Greece was marked by uncertainty and danger for the 21 passengers. It developed a mechanical problem that made it move very slowly on Wednesday. There was a question about whether its captain might try to take it right into Gaza, which is blockaded by the Israeli military. At one point the ship was surrounded by 8 Israeli war vessels.

Intensive diplomatic efforts were launched to convince the Libyan government and the Qadhafi Foundation to divert the ship to al-Arish. The USG Open Source Center translated a report of the Voice of Israel Network B broadcast on Wednesday:

‘ The Jewish-Austrian businessman Martin Schlaff is mediating between Israel and the Al-Qhadhafi fund in the efforts to prevent the Libyan ship from reaching the Gaza Strip. This was what our Arab affairs correspondent Eran Singer was told by Arab diplomatic sources. Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s bureau refused to comment on the alleged diplomatic contacts regarding the Libyan ship and would therefore neither confirm nor deny the report. Our correspondent reports that businessman Martin Schlaff maintains close contacts with the Libyan authorities and is also known for his ties to Minister Lieberman.’

Aljazeera English has video, including from a correspondent aboard the al-Amal:

The Israeli power elite viewed the outcome as a victory. The USG Open Source Center translates a Hebrew language report from the Voice of Israel Network B, broadcast on Wednesday, July 14, 2010:

Deputy Foreign Minister Dani Ayalon said that Israel can chalk up a victory in its dealings with the Libyan ship. He said that the fact that the United States and EU had urged the ship’s captain to accede to Israel’s demands granted legitimacy to the latter’s policy. Ayalon told Network B’s anchor Arye Golan this morning that the determination shown by Israel toward the previous flotilla had contributed to its effective policy. As for the possibility of Egypt inspecting the ship’s cargo and then shipping it to the Gaza Strip, Ayalon clarified that Egypt and Israel had a shared interest in preventing HAMAS’s military buildup in the Gaza Strip. ‘

Contrary to what the far rightwing ideologue Ayalon asserted, the incident was no victory for Israel. al-Quds al-Arabi reports in Arabic that the Qadhafi Foundation is maintaining that it extracted several concessions from Israel in return for diverting to the Egyptian port, including a pledge that travel abroad for treatment of ill Palestinians in Gaza would be expedited and reconstruction projects would be allowed to go forward (one in 8 Palestinians in Gaza had their homes destroyed in the 2008-2009 Israeli assault on the Strip.)

The episode showed the continued determination of NGOs and governments to break the illegal and inhumane siege of civilians in Gaza, which, despite Israeli announcements, has not in fact been much eased. It is illegal in international law for an Occupying power to blockade the civilian population for the welfare of which it is responsible. Israeli politicians’ assertion that their blockade is legal and must be observed by third parties is incorrect, since blockades that primarily punish civilian populations are illicit on their face and cooperating with them is against the law.

The Qadhafi Foundation is very unlikely to be the last NGO to attempt to get aid to Gaza, and each round of attempted relief will put Israel in a bad light in the eyes of the world and will risk Israeli violence against a humanitarian mission. And if each such mission does extract concessions from Israel, then over time the blockade of Gaza will collapse. I cannot understand the blockade policy anyway. If the point is to convince the people of Gaza not to vote for Hamas again, then wouldn’t you have to schedule elections to discover if the policy has succeeded? It would be illegal to punish the civilian population for such a purpose, but at least the policy would have an end-point. But no elections are scheduled. In that case, the blockade is just Israelis being unbearably mean to Palestinians for an extended period of time, with no practical political objective on the horizon. Except maybe to keep the Palestinians weak and at least slightly malnourished for as long as possible.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government has gone back to destroying Palestinian homes in Jerusalem. These actions have repeatedly been condemned by the European Union as illegal. Richard Falk says that some Israeli policies in Jerusalem, including a plan to expel some Palestinian residents, may even constitute war crimes. The timing of the move was a slap in the face of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was about to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Mubarak hastily cancelled the meeting. The Egyptian government’s close cooperation with Israel is deeply unpopular with the Egyptian public. The house demolitions were also further affronts to President Barack Obama, since they are obstacles to the direct Israeli-Palestinian talks for which Obama has been pushing. Aljazeera English has video:

14 Responses

  1. Amalthea was the she-goat who suckled Zeus (in one form of the legend). Her horn was Cornucopia, the horn of plenty. It’s a coincidence that the word contains “amal”.

  2. “…..several concessions from Israel in return for diverting to the Egyptian port, including a pledge that travel abroad for treatment of ill Palestinians in Gaza would be expedited and reconstruction projects would be allowed to go forward”

    With all due respect, as people have been saying for years, first observe the facts on the ground. Whatever “concessions” may have been wrung-out, we should be more impressed by what Israel might choose to do in….well….Good Faith, for real.

  3. “blockades that primarily punish civilian populations are illicit on their face and cooperating with them is against the law.”

    Also true for the US blockades of Cuba and North Korea (and our sanctions against Iraq in the 90′s).

  4. There is no blockade of Cuba…there was an embargo in 1962, specifically to prevent WMDs from being brought in. Trade between the US and Cuba is very restricted today, but is certainly not a blockade; I know of no law, international or otherwise, that requires one country to permit trade with another. The US does not interfere in commerce between Cuba and any country that cares to trade with it.
    I’m not familiar with the North Korea situation but I suspect it is very similar: trade with the US is very restricted but there is no interference with any other commerce.
    Hard to understand how UN-supported sanctions can be “illicit on their face.”

    • Phud1

      “The US does not interfere in commerce between Cuba and any country that cares to trade with it.”

      Reality

      “The Helms-Burton Act has been the target of criticism from Canadian and European governments in particular, who resent the extraterritorial pretensions of a piece of legislation aimed at punishing non-U.S. corporations and non-U.S. investors who have economic interests in Cuba. In the Canadian House of Commons, Helms-Burton was mocked by the introduction of the Godfrey-Milliken Bill, which called for the return of property of United Empire Loyalists seized by the American government as a result of the American Revolution (the bill never became law). Furthermore, the European Parliament in 1996 passed a law making it illegal for EU citizens to obey the Helms-Burton act. ”

      Phud1

      “there was an embargo in 1962, specifically to prevent WMDs from being brought in.”

      Reality

      ” July 1960, in response to Cuba’s new revolutionary government’s seizure of US properties, the United States reduced the Cuban import quota of brown sugar by 700,000 tons, under the Sugar Act of 1948[6]; the Soviet Union responded by agreeing to purchase the sugar instead, as Cuba’s new government continued to take further actions to nationalize American businesses and privately owned property….
      In response to the Cuban alignment with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, President John F. Kennedy extended measures by Executive Order, first widening the scope of the trade restrictions on February 7 (announced on February 3 and again on March 23, 1962). According to a former aide, Kennedy asked him to purchase 1,000 Cuban cigars for Kennedy’s future use immediately before the extended embargo was to come into effect. Salinger succeeded, returning in the morning with 1,200 Petit H. Upmann cigars, Kennedy’s favorite cigar size and brand.[7] Following the Cuban Missile Crisis, Kennedy imposed travel restrictions on February 8, 1963, and the Cuban Assets Control Regulations were issued on July 8, 1963, under the Trading with the Enemy Act in response to Cubans hosting Soviet nuclear weapons. Under these restrictions, Cuban assets in the U.S. were frozen and the existing restrictions were consolidated.”

      Mind you, I used Wiki which is NOT pro-Cuban in any way.

      Is it not odd that defender of USA sanctions against Iraq and Cuba is not very well aware about reality?

      • (1) A blockade is a military action to prevent travel to/from an area or country. There is no blockade or any military or forcible activity to prevent other countries from trading with Cuba. US trade sanctions fall under my statement that “I know of no law, international or otherwise, that requires one country to permit trade with another.” If the US chooses to enforce trade restrictions with countries that do business with Cuba, or North Korea, or Iran, that is neither a blockade nor an embargo.
        (2) You prove my point. The only embargo and/or blockade was specifically directed at the USSR bringing nuclear-armed missiles into Cuba. It was not a full blockade; any ship was subject to inspection by the US Navy and if found not to be carrying such weapons, it was free to proceed. This “partial blockade” lasted only a few days. Other than that there has been no militarily-enforced blockade or embargo of Cuba, only trade restrictions which as I said violate no law I’m aware of.
        (3) “Is it not odd that defender of USA sanctions against Iraq and Cuba is not very well aware about reality?” Why do you conclude that I support such sanctions? My only opposition is to mis-statements of the facts, e.g., that there is a blockade of Cuba and that UN-approved sanctions against Iraq were illegal. (And the further mis-statements of fact that follow your “reality.”) For the record, I think our Cuba policy is incredibly stupid; that we should have billions in annual trade with China and Vietnam, and try to use trade to strongarm Cuba into reform.

        • I think we may be getting hung up on the semantics of the word “embargo.” I know of no circumstances under which a policy decision not to trade in certain goods with certain countries–whatever goods, for whatever reasons, good or bad, wise or stupid–is illegal. There are definitely circumstances under which use of military force to prevent certain goods from entering or leaving a country or area is illegal but (1) wrt Cuba that was only a very limited time for a very limited purpose and has nothing to do with Cuba’s economy or the nature of its government; (2) wrt Iraq the…whatever you care to call it…was approved by the UN; (3) wrt North Korea it is mostly trade policy, not use of force.

        • I cited your own words and refuted them. I have NOT bothered with names for deeds , but with facts.
          1) USA DOES “interfere”
          2) USA started acting against Cuba (no matter how to call them) NOT because of WMD or some other crap.

          Now, you could say what you want, but facts are stubborn.

          Now about “stupidity” – USA rulers know that they cannot force China and Vietnam – they tried and failed. But C and V are far away, and could not be so much of a “bad example” of independent politics and alternative way to USA neighbors . Cuba is , and exactly because of it Cuba is targeted.

  5. Why does Al Jazeera use the Israeli released clip of what took place on Mavi marmara instead of using Iara Lee’s footage. Also why do they agree to show maps of Palestine and Israel that show Palestinians lands with out the illegal Israeli settlements and the non contiguous lands of the Palestinians broken into pieces by these illegal settlements?

  6. Good questions, Kathleen. Why not ask Al Jazeera directly – and any other TV station for that matter who refuses to show maps of the realities on the ground? Maybe if everybody reading your comment would just do that – addressing their local, national and international TV channels – we might get somewhere? I for one will do just that.

    Thank you for the excellent idea :-)

  7. “The timing of the move was a slap in the face of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, who was about to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. Mubarak hastily cancelled the meeting. The Egyptian government’s close cooperation with Israel is deeply unpopular with the Egyptian public.”

    The saying goes on the streets of Cairo that the meeting has been cancelled due to the suddenly again deteriorating health of Mubarak. Really, nothing Israel could or would do would convince Mubarak, the obedient servant, to cancel a meeting with his master. It is not only the close co-operation with Israel which is deeply unpopular with the Egyptian public – it’s Mubarak and his cronies that are unpopular to say the least.

  8. There doesn’t seem to be a way to reply directly to “Lidia:”
    “I cited your own words and refuted them. I have NOT bothered with names for deeds , but with facts.
    1) USA DOES “interfere”
    2) USA started acting against Cuba (no matter how to call them) NOT because of WMD or some other crap.
    Now, you could say what you want, but facts are stubborn.
    Now about “stupidity” – USA rulers know that they cannot force China and Vietnam – they tried and failed. But C and V are far away, and could not be so much of a “bad example” of independent politics and alternative way to USA neighbors . Cuba is , and exactly because of it Cuba is targeted.”
    ——————–
    You have changed the subject. The original point was not whether or not the US interfered with trade with Cuba, Vietnam, or North Korea; but rather that what the US was doing (“blockade” or “embargo”) was illegal.
    I said, and I believe I proved, that trade restrictions as a matter of policy cannot be illegal but I agree they can be stupid and counterproductive (e.g., Cuba). The only instances of forcible prevention of “trade” were interdiction of nuclear missiles going to Cuba, and UN-approved sanctions against Iraq. Hence perfectly legal.
    No question the US “interferes” with trade with Cuba. Why, and whether it’s smart or helpful, are completely different issues than legality, and I only addressed legality.

    • Could Phud1 READ what he had posted? OK, I’ll remind him his own words – see his first post here

      “The US does not interfere in commerce between Cuba and any country that cares to trade with it.” I refuted his words with facts – USA DOES.

      After that he change the topic :)

      His second wrong declaration I leave alone – anyone could check it up by oneself.

Comments are closed.