Friday, 9 July 2010

Israel to UN: Block Gaza-bound Libyan aid ship

Israeli envoy to UN expresses dismay at 'questionable and provocative' intentions of Libyan mission.

srael launched a diplomatic move at the United Nations on Friday in efforts to enlist the international community to help prevent a Libyan aid ship from sailing to Gaza, in violation of Israel's naval blockade.

In an official letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Israeli ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev wrote that "Israel calls upon the international community to exert its influence on the government of Libya to demonstrate responsibility and prevent the ship from departing to the Gaza Strip."

Earlier Friday, the French news agency AFP reported that the son of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi had organized a humanitarian aid boat to sail from Greece to the Gaza.

The Gadhafi International Charity and Development Association, headed by Saif Al-Islam Gaddafi, expected its Hope cargo ship to set out later Friday, organizers told AFP. Later reports suggested, however, that the ship would not set sail until Saturday at the earliest.

Shalev's letter to Ban went on to clarify that "Israel reserves the right under international law to prevent this ship from violating the existing naval blockade on the Gaza Strip."

Israel imposed the blockade on Gaza in 2007 following a bloody Hamas takeover of the Gaza Strip. Israel recently eased the terms of the land blockade on the territory, following a deadly raid of a Turkish aid ship, but the naval blockade has so far remained in place.

In the letter, Shalev further urged the international community "to discourage their nationals from taking part in such action," adding that Israel "expects the international community to ensure that this ship does not sail."

"The declared intentions of this mission are even more questionable and provocative given the recent measures taken by Israel to ensure the increase of humanitarian aid flowing into the Gaza Strip," the letter went on to say, adding that Israel has taken upon itself the responsibility of ensuring the transfer of humanitarian aid into the Palestinian territory.

Copies of the letter were also submitted to the current president of the UN Security Council as well as the president of the General Assembly, a Libyan national who previously served as Libya's foreign minister.

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