Archive | July 3rd, 2011

1. PRESS RELEASE: Mr. Raed Salah’s Appeal Lodged


Introduction by Gilad Atzmon:

It seems as if Islamophobia has become an official government policy in the UK. Sheikh Raed Salah, the admired Palestinian leader of the largest civil society body in Israel has been arrested in the UK two days ago. This shouldn’t take us by a big surprise considering the relentless activity of Jewish lobbies in the UK. At the end of the day, the Israelis and their supporters realised long time ago that it is much cheaper to by a Western politician than buying a tank.

“The double standards operating here are chilling,” wrote Dr Hanan Chehata in the New Statesman today.  “While the government is doing its utmost to change the British laws on Universal Jurisdiction to make it easier for suspected Israeli war criminals to visit the UK without the fear of arrest warrants being issued against them, at the same time they are happy to arrest Palestinian leaders who have committed no crime but are here to expose Israeli war crimes and discuss peaceful methods of resolution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”

The British Government better wake up immediately. It must release Sheikh Raed Salah and apologize to him and the Muslim world.


For immediate release

Saturday 2 July 2011

Mr. Raed Salah’s Appeal Lodged

On Friday 1st July Mr. Raed Salah was transferred from an Immigration Detention Centre to a formal prison. No good reason for this transfer has been given.

The transfer to prison will significantly interfere with the preparation of Mr Salah’s appeal against the Deportation Order. The deadline for Mr Salah to Appeal is the  6th July 2011 . The prison have informed Mr. Salah’s lawyer that his legal team will not be able to visit him  until the 11th  July, 5 days after the deadline is due to pass.

Mr Salah’s solicitor, Tayab Ali of ITN Solicitors, said  ‘Mr Salah remains resolute and determined to challenge the Deportation Order. Despite the difficulties his transfer to prison poses for us, a formal Notice of Appeal against the Deportation Order was lodged on Friday.  We are confident that the Order will be overturned.

‘The Home Secretary has grossly misjudged my client. In stark contrast to the false picture that has been painted,  he is a man of peace, a widely respected leader who campaigns tirelessly for his people. By attempting to silence him in the United Kingdom, the Government is turning its back on the Palestinian people’.

‘The merits of the Home Secretary’s Order are now a matter for the Courts’.


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Audacity Stopped at Sea



Audacity Stopped at Sea (Video) 


Video of Greek authorities stopping the U.S. Boat to Gaza under the pretense that it was not seaworthy. It later became clear that seaworthiness was never an issue, the Greek authorities had already decided not to let the Flotilla leave from any of it’s ports.


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Captain of US boat jailed in Athens


By Mya Guarnieri

ATHENS, Greece (Ma’an) — The captain of a US boat carrying activists who tried to break the Israeli blockade of Gaza was jailed Saturday in Athens, organizers of the flotilla said.

John Klusmer is being charged with two felonies, organizers of the boat told reporters at a news conference in the Greek capital. The investigation will begin Tuesday, they said.

Klusmer was handcuffed and jailed after arriving at a police station Saturday afternoon. He and the organizers understood the charges to be misdemeanors, but authorities later accused him of two felonies.

The captain’s four-member crew is being detained on the boat. While passengers are free to go, they are staying on the Audacity of Hope as a show of solidarity with their captain and crew.

US Boat to Gaza organizer Jane Hirschmann told reporters the captain was charged with disobeying a police order not to leave the port and disturbing sea traffic.

The latter charge drew laughs from reporters.

Hirschmann responded, “That’s an interesting one, isn’t it?”

Hirschmann said the second charge was the result of a complaint lodged against the US Boat to Gaza by Shurat HaDin, an Israeli law center which is funded by American activist and pastor John Hagee.

Hagee is a fundamentalist Christian who operates a pro-Israel group in the US.

Hirschmann called the charges “bogus” and added that “We hope to move on this before Tuesday and try to make sure that that [our captain] gets out.”

She says the flotilla is not seeking a new captain for the Audacity of Hope.

Passengers “are very worried about the captain and feel responsible for the captain. But they’re also very determined people on the boat. They chose to stay on the ship,” Hirschmann said.

Hirschmann and other organizers said the ships that make up the flotilla would not sail alone.

When asked if the US boat had been effectively sidelined, Hirschmann responded, “We don’t know, we’re the Audacity of Hope and the audacity of hope triumphs over the audacity of violence and the audacity of threats. And our boat has not been impounded. Yet.”

Also in Athens, Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti remarked that “We consider this boat, this flotilla, one part of peaceful non-violent resistance, one part of peaceful non-violent struggle.”

He added that “this kind of struggle of the international community, joined with the Palestinian struggle — which is going on non-violently and peacefully — is one way of liberating Palestinians from occupation.

“It is also one way of liberating the Israeli people from the same occupation and the same apartheid because the Israelis themselves will never be free as long as the Palestinians are not free,” Barghouti added.

Barghouti called on the Greek government to allow the US Boat to Gaza and all other ships to sail, adding that the flotilla and other acts of non-violent resistance that are happening in the occupied Palestinian territories resemble “the best traditions of Martin Luther King, Nelson Mandela, and Gandhi.”

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from the FPM Delegation in Athens

July 2, 2011

Greece Issues Statement on Flotilla Policy

“Prohibition of the departure of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to the maritime area of Gaza today. 

Pursuant to a decision by the Minister of Citizen Protection Mr. C. Papoutsis, the departure of ships with Greek and foreign flags from Greek ports to the maritime area of Gaza has been prohibited today. …”  read more >>

Flotilla Organizers Hold Daily Press Conference

Each afternoon flotilla organizers meet with members of the press for updates on the unfolding events.
See video of yesterday’s announcements here:

FPM Delegation Awaiting Departure

The FPM team continues to work closely with the flotilla organizers as events unfold in Athens.  Yesterday, the US flagged US Audacity of Hope attempted to leave Greek waters in route to Gaza but were met by Greek authorities and ultimately returned to port.  CNN (and many other press organizations) was on board and is reporting on the story including inspiring interviews from passengers like Hedy Epstein and Alice Walker.

The International Ship on which the FPM delegation will sail is planning to depart within coming days.  Updates including streaming video and social media links are available on our website.

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Dorothy Online Newsletter


Hi Everyone,

Brief this evening.  Shortly will be off to a demo in front of the Greek Embassy to protest its part in delaying the flotilla to Gaza.  The demo undoubtedly will not change the course of things.  But sitting on one’s hands won’t either.  We have to at least try.  And the Greeks should know that there are Israelis who do not agree with their government’s policies.

Most of what the newspapers on-line are publishing about the Gaza flotilla is not new.  And the Today in Palestine compilation for July 1, 2011 (always a day late) is not yet in the works.  Hope to receive it when I return from the demo.

Meanwhile, there are 3 items below.

Item 1 by Rachel Giora, who is very active in the bds movement, explains how bds will ‘free both the oppressed and the oppressor.  Please distribute this item widely.  I realize that for some of you this piece is a duplicate.  I apologize, but better to have it twice than not at all.

Items 2 and 3 are both about the flotilla.  In item 3 the participants say that they do not intend to give up.  Let’s hope that they do indeed get to Gaza.

All the best,



1,  [forwarded by Racheli]

BDS will free both the oppressed, and the oppressor

by RACHEL GIORA on JULY 1, 2011

On June 27, the bill “to protect the state of Israel from damage caused by boycott” was approved by the Knesset’s Constitution, Law and Justice Committee for second and third readings in the plenum. The bill passed its first reading in the Knesset plenum on March 7, 2011, despite severe criticism from governmental ministries, the legal advisor of the Ministry of Justice, and leading civil society organizations. Regardless, Israel is determined to resist international pressure even at the cost of extreme penalties for legitimate, non-violent means used by citizens to protest government policies, such as the refusal of Israeli artists to perform in a theatre located in an Israeli settlement in the occupied Palestinian territory. The bill will become law when its second and third readings take place early in July.

This legislation together with a long series of bills, some already enacted, aim to intimidate critics and silence protest. In March 2010, the Israeli parliament enacted the Nakba law allowing the State to revoke government funding for groups that mark Israeli Arabs’ Day of Destruction (Nakba). These measures of political repression show that Israel is willing to go to a great length in undermining basic rights and freedoms such as the freedom of expression and association, wracking havoc on its civil society and Palestinian minority.

To meet with retribution and attempts at repression, resistance need not be violent. And when it unites people, it cannot be silenced. Exemplary in this respect is the feminist revolution. It has been liberating women as well as men everywhere, without bloodshed. In the same spirit of solidarity and non-violent resistance, the Palestinian civil society called in July 2005 for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel “until it complies with international law and universal principles of human rights.” The effect of this call has been immense and is still growing, so much so that Israel can no longer turn a blind eye to it. Israeli leaders acknowledge that the boycott movement against Israel is effective. Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned of “a political tsunami” against Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu considered boycotting the Mideast Quartet meeting for fear of international pressure.

Indeed, the Palestinian nonviolent struggle made its mark and global solidarity with the Palestinians is soaring while Israel’s international status is plummeting. The EU is considering sanctions against Israel. The UN singled out Israel for human rights abuse Several South American and Latin American states already recognized Palestinian independence and this trend is now on the rise in Europe. According to a recent BBC poll surveying 27 countries, Israel is grouped with Iran and North Korea as “the world’s least popular countries” and viewed as having a negative influence in the world. According to an ICM European poll carried out in January 2011, European public opinion is swaying against Israel. This may suggest that the international community is approaching the point of finally having enough of Israel’s entrenched policies of occupation and settlement.

Rather than addressing and redressing the real issues Israel is now targeting peace activists and human rights defenders, suggesting they are to blame for Israel’s loss of legitimacy. The incarceration of Palestinian popular struggle leaders Abdullah Abu Rahmah and Bassam Tamimi and of Israeli activist Jonathan Pollak are just a few instances, clearly indicating a move towards severe harassment of activists engaged in popular protest. Those who raise their voice against government policies are denounced as enemies of the state. At the same time, it is worth noting that Israelis of all walks of life responded to the boycott prohibition bill with disdain and anger. Over 50 Israeli civil society organizations, headed by the Coalition of Women for Peace, have signed an urgent appeal to the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee of the Knesset calling the committee to halt the legislative proceedings of the Boycott Prohibition bill. Israel Prize laureates and eminent cultural icons protested the bill, describing it as suicidal. Israel, they have stated, is acting like a criminal state. Israel’s international isolation is now recognized by some prominent Israelis to be a result of misguided, “hysterical” even, actions of a reckless government willing to further sacrifice its commitment to democracy for a commitment to maintaining the occupation.

Outlawing boycotts against Israel and similar measures of repression will not turn the tide. These are rightfully perceived as pathetic and desperate attempts at silencing legitimate dissent. The intensifying pressure of the international community should support the resolve of Israeli and international civil society to continue resisting occupation policies. It should eventually force Israel to come to its senses. As Reverend Samuel Kyles, speaking on the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, said: “You can kill the dreamer…but you cannot kill the dream.” The Palestinian struggle for freedom and justice, like the feminist movement, is bound to redeem both the oppressed and the oppressor; may they free themselves from slavery and the enslaver from tyranny.

Rachel Giora is a Professor of Linguistics at Tel Aviv University and a member ofBOYCOTT! Supporting the Palestinian BDS call from within.


2.  NY Times,

July 1, 2011

Stuck in Dock, Flotilla Activists See the Hand of Israel


ATHENS — With the propeller shafts of two ships mysteriously damaged, the Greek authorities holding other vessels in port on government orders and an American boat turned back by the Greek coast guard on Friday just 20 minutes off the coast, the international flotilla to Gaza has stalled.

Organizers say they see the long arm of Israel behind their improbable woes, and while Israeli officials have dismissed such accusations as so much conspiracy mongering, they have declined to deny them outright.

One year after Israeli commandos killed nine Turkish activists aboard the Mavi Marmara during another flotilla, organizers had hoped once again to challenge the naval blockade of the Gaza Strip off its coast. It appears increasingly unlikely, however, that the eight boats now preparing to sail will ever be able or allowed to leave port.

Echoing a majority view among participants here, Johnny Leo Johansen, a ponytailed Norwegian photographer and activist, put it this way: “It’s like they’ve moved the blockade from Gaza to Greece.” On Friday the coast guard stopped the American boat in the flotilla, The Audacity of Hope, about one mile out to sea, quashing the initial excitement of the passengers, who were surprised to have been allowed to leave the harbor at all.

“We could see the handwriting on the wall, that they were going to try to shut down all the ports across the Mediterranean,” said Ann Wright, the lead organizer of the American boat.

After a complaint about improper documentation filed by an Israeli advocacy group, the boat had been held in port outside Athens on police orders. Inspectors visited it a week ago Friday, but the results of their inspection had yet to be provided. Without them, the ship could not legally set sail.

The Greek Ministry of Citizen Protection decreed Friday that all vessels in Greek ports were prohibited from sailing toward “the maritime area of Gaza.” No explanation was given, and ministry officials could not be reached for further comment.

The Americans decided to leave just the same. After chasing them down, a smiling, youthful coast guard captain leaned out his window and requested the ship’s inspection papers. Passengers leaned over the upper-deck railing of the American boat, chanting, “Let us sail to Gaza!” Others held a cardboard sign asking, “Is it Poseidon or Netanyahu?” (That is, a passenger explained, “Who is the king of the Aegean?”)

“The probability that the Greek government has already made a decision to not let us out of the port is probably quite high, I would think,” Ms. Wright said earlier this week. “It’s not surprising, in a way, that the Greek government has succumbed to the pressure.”

The Israeli government, she noted, has held cabinet meetings on the subject of the flotilla, and several rounds of military exercises have been conducted in preparation for a confrontation. “I’m shocked that they would be spending so much time, money, energy,” Ms. Wright added, but in some ways, she has been pleased by the Israeli attention. “We couldn’t have dreamed for a better thing. Usually, governments don’t cooperate with us this way!”

On Thursday, Irish organizers announced that they had pulled their Turkish-docked ship from the flotilla after the crew discovered damage to the propeller shaft, the result of what they assume to have been sabotage by divers. Organizers said that the damage was discovered on a trial run, but that otherwise the vessel might have sunk at sea.

Activists discovered nearly identical damage to a Greek-Swedish-Norwegian passenger boat this week. That boat is now grounded for repairs.

Three boats with passengers principally from Canada, Spain and the Netherlands were awaiting clearance to sail Friday. All of the ships have ostensibly met the requirements of the Greek authorities, according to Adam Shapiro, a flotilla organizer and spokesman. But on Thursday, harbor officials barred a French boat from refueling, he said, an indication that Greek officials might find justifications for retaining the other ships in port.

As of Friday morning, after more than a week in ports across Greece, not a single ship had explicit clearance from the Greek authorities to set sail, and it remains unclear when more ships might sail, or what an eventual flotilla might resemble. “We’re going to do something,” Mr. Shapiro vowed. Still, he added, “It seems we’re already doing something, given the kind of response we’ve gotten.”

Asked about activists’ suggestions that Israel was behind the apparent sabotage, Mark Regev, a spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, said, “These activists are not renowned for being an objective source of information.” He added: “These people have a tendency to blame Israel, to see Israel’s hand behind every calamity. And of course that cannot be true.” But when asked to deny their claims more categorically, he declined.

Israeli officials acknowledge that they have been seeking to head off the flotilla, not just because they consider it an attempt to besmirch the country’s name and policies but because they believe the entire endeavor is largely organized and inspired by radical Islamists behind the scenes who are seeking a violent encounter with Israeli forces.

On Thursday, Mr. Netanyahu said in a speech, “Sometimes, we not only need to deflect our enemies’ physical attacks, but also deflect the attack on our right to protect ourselves.” Speaking at the Israeli Air Force flight school graduation ceremony, Mr. Netanyahu thanked world leaders who in recent days had spoken out and acted “against the provocation flotilla.” He commended the Greek prime minister, George Papandreou, who he said had been closely cooperating with Israel in coordinating moves related to the flotilla.

On Friday, the Israeli Army told journalists that Tarek Hamud, 32, a son-in-law of Khaled Meshal, the Damascus-based head of Hamas, was with the flotilla in Athens, playing a leading role in its organization. Mr. Hamud leads the Palestinian Association of Hamas, according to Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, a military spokeswoman.

Flotilla activists denied any links to radical or terrorist organizations and said they had never even heard of Mr. Hamud. Izzat al-Risheq, a spokesman for Hamas in Damascus, said Mr. Hamud “has nothing to do with the flotilla in any way. He is in his house right now in Damascus. This is a lie by the Israeli Army aimed at getting people to oppose this humane mission.”

Hamas denies having any role in the flotilla.

Ethan Bronner contributed reporting from Jerusalem.


3.  Ynet,

July 02, 2011

Strong Resolve

‘Audacity of Hope’ passangers Photo: AFP

Gaza flotilla activists determined to set sail

Despite setbacks, sail organizers refuse to give up. ‘We are determined to reach Gaza one way or the other – This ain’t over,’ says passenger. Meanwhile, Foreign Ministry denies accusations that Israel sabotaged boats, calling them ‘ridiculous, paranoid’,7340,L-4089982,00.html

Yuval Mann

Despite the mysterious sabotage, and Greece’s announcement that it will not allow ships to sail to the Gaza Strip from its ports, the flotilla activists are as determined as ever to break the naval blockade.

“We won’t stay here,” Dror Feiler, who plans to sail to the Palestinian enclave onboard the “Juliano” vessel that is docking in Greece, told Ynet on Saturday.

“We are determined to get to Gaza one way or the other. This ship is called the Audacity of Hope – this ain’t over yet,” added Free Gaza activist Greta Berlin.

On Friday, the “Audacity of Hope” set sail from the port in Greece en-route to Gaza, but was stopped shortly after by the Greek Coast Guard and diverted to a military dockyard.

Left-wing activist Yonatan Shapira, one of the ship’s crewmembers, told Ynet that while local authorities claim the ship was not fit to sail, “the Greek government has bigger bosses that were pressuring it.

Greek commandos take over ship

“I heard that someone called the Greek Embassy in the United States to protest the halting of the ship and was told by embassy employees that the Americans instructed them to do it,” said Shapira.

‘Yearning to sail’

The Greek authorities on Friday announced that “the departure of ships carrying Greek and foreign flags from ports in Greece to the waters surrounding Gaza has been banned.”

Hamas has denounced the decision, saying it was in contradiction with international law and customs, and urging the European Union to step in.

“We will do whatever we can to leave,” said Shapira, “I know everyone here are yearning for it to happen.”

Coast Guard escorting ship back to port (Photo: Reuters)

Commenting on the taking over of the ship, Shapira said, “Commando soldiers wearing masks and armed with automatic weapons encircled us on Coast Guard ships, aimed their weapons at us and told us it was for our own safety.

“It was one big farce,” he noted, adding that the activists continued to dance, play and talk to the commandos through the megaphone.

“I told them to think about the fact that the majority, if not the entire Greek nation supports us and wants us to sail to Gaza,” he said.

‘Greece sold its soul to Israel, US’

Meanwhile, Feiler said that repair work has been completed on the “Juliano” vessel, which according to the flotilla organizers was sabotaged by Israel.

“Today we’ll put it back in the water and continue our preparations,” he said, adding that he is not scared of clashing with the Greek army.

“I’m not afraid of the Israeli commando, so why would I be scared about the Greek commando? If they want to stop us, they can. We don’t have the capabilities of a state, we are not an army,” he added.

“Greece sold its body to the banks and its soul to Israel and the United States,” Feiler noted angrily, “I don’t think – I know that Israel and US pressure caused this.”

Feiler called on the government of Israel to allow the flotilla activists to reach Gaza. “We aren’t carrying any dangerous items,” he stressed. “Removing the blockade will help Israel stop the radicalization of the Palestinians and release the pressure cooker that is called the Gaza Strip,” he said.

On Saturday, Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Yigal Palmor denied claims according to which Israel sabotaged two of the Gaza-bound flotilla ships slated to sail from Turkey and Greece.

“These are ridiculous, paranoid accusations. The organizers didn’t do the minimum required in order to prove that there was indeed sabotage; they didn’t even file a complaint with the police. They live in a James Bond movie,” Palmor noted.

The Foreign Ministry spokesperson added that Israel was verifying reports claiming Israel’s ambassador to Ireland was called in for clarification at the Dublin Foreign Ministry following suspicion that Israel sabotaged the Irish ship “Saoirse.”

Boaz Fyler and Elior Levy contributed to this report

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US BOAT TO GAZA: The Audacity To Love


In 2010, the Freedom Flotilla took sail, sparking an unprecedented international human rights mission, dedicated to ending Israel’s blockade on Gaza.

Joining Freedom Flotilla II is the first-ever U.S. Boat to Gaza, “The Audacity of Hope.”

The individuals on this boat will be simply delivering LETTERS OF LOVE to the people of Gaza.

Thirteen of America’s greatest thinkers talk about why “The Audacity of Hope” is one of the most crucial campaigns of our time.


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Gadhafi Threatens Retaliation Against Europe if NATO Attacks Continue



In an audio message delivered today in Tripoli, Libyan ruler Moammar Gadhafi warned Europe that itfaced retaliation if NATO did not immediately halt its bombing campaign. He insisted that Libya could descend upon Europe “like locusts.”

Gadhafi went on to say that should such attacks on Europe begin, they would treat civilian homes and office buildings as “legitimate military targets, like you have targeted our homes.” One of Gadhafi’s sons, Saif al-Arab, was killed in a strike on his home in Tripoli early in the war.

While much was made of the comments in the Western media, however, it must not be forgotten that the audience for this speech was ten thousand or so pro-Gadhafi marchers in a capital city beset by over 100 days of bombardment, and looking for some indication, any indication, that the war will end.

In that context then the comments are indeed aimed more at rhetorical value among the besieged population of the capital than they are a serious statement of policy. Though Libya may retain the ability to launch such attacks, it seems the effort to end the war is better served not with escalation, but with reconciliation talks, which are rumored to be under way.

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Greek authorities stop American ship taking part in Gaza flotilla


American activists aboard ‘The Audacity of Hope’ leave Perama port in Greece, authorities stop ship shortly after departure.

American activists set sail from Greece on Friday aboard a boat set to take part in the pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza, defying calls from Israel to cancel and a ban by Athens.

The boat, dubbed “The Audacity of Hope”, left Perama port for the open seas, a Reuters witness said. Greek authorities said earlier on Friday that ships destined to Gaza were prohibited from leaving Greek ports.

Shortly after leaving the port, Greek authorities stopped the boat, and negotiations are currently underway to determine whether the vessel can continue on its way despite the ban.

The Audacity of Hope is one of many boats that is planning to take part in a flotilla aimed at challenging Israel’s naval blockade of the Gaza Strip. A spokeswoman announced Friday that it will set sail next week, in spite of repeated delays that activists blame on Israeli sabotage.

“Israel is doing its very, very best to make sure we don’t get out of port,” spokeswoman Greta Berlin said, speaking by telephone from Greece where some of the ships are moored.

“We want to move the boats by July 5 to get to our rendezvous point no later than July 6 or 7 … We will go with what we have,” she added.

The original plan was to have 15 ships set sail, however the current count stands at nine boats hoping to take part in the mission, Berlin said in her statement.

The flotilla is set to head toward Gaza a little over a year after Israeli marines stormed another pro-Palestinian flotilla that had approached the strip. Nine activists died in the on-board clashes, provoking an international outcry.

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Russian Envoy: NATO Likely Preparing Ground Invasion in Libya



Speaking today to a Russian media outlet, Russian ambassador to NATO Dmitry Rogozin said he believes that NATO, or at least some of its members, are laying the groundwork for a fullscale ground invasion of Libya.

Rogozin’s comments came in the wake of repeatedly complaints about the repeated escalation of the war by NATO member nations, particularly France, and included a call for France to explain how it feltdropping weapons into Libya did not violate UN Security Resolution 1970.

NATO officials have repeatedly denied a plan to invade the nation, which is explicitly forbidden by the UN resolution they are using as a pretext for the war. They have, however, suggested they would be open to a post-Gadhafi occupation force.

But some NATO troops have already been caught on camera violating the ban, and as what was presented as a quick air war descends into a long-term stalemate expected to last months, France and Britain in particular seem keen to escalate the war in hopes that it will provide a solution. At this point, few escalatory options exist other than a ground invasion.

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IsraHell, Turkey to mollify UN flotilla report?


by crescentandcross


Amid attempts to launch next Gaza flotilla, officials in Jerusalem, Ankara try to iron out differences, soften conclusions of Palmer committee on previous sail

WASHINGTON – Israel and Turkey are holding secret talks in an effort to soften the conclusions of the Palmer Report, issued by a United Nations panel appointed to probe the events of the May 2010 Gaza-bound flotilla.

According to information obtained by Ynet, sources in Washington claimed that Israel’s representative to the UN inquiry committee Yosef Ciechanover, his Turkish counterpart and other officials were crisscrossing between Jerusalem and Ankara in an attempt to use the report’s conclusions to improve relations between the countries.

The sources also noted that the American administration was applying pressure on both sides to end the prolonged feud, and therefore postponed the publication of the committee’s final report, which was headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.

According to the sources, if Israel and Turkey reach mutual understandings, the United Nations may decide to moderate the reports’ conclusions and refrain from assigning direct blame on one of the sides.

Recently, US President Barack Obama held two phone conversations with Turkish Prime Minster Recep Tayyip Erdogan and US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with her Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu in an effort to make progress between the sides.

Washington regards Ankara as a main strategic ally in the new Middle East, especially following the recent uprisings in the region and Syria’s violent suppression of protesters.

On Monday, Turkish paper Hurriyet reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to a Turkish demand to issue an apology for the killing of nine activists onboard he Mavi Marmara, but rescinded his decision three times due to internal pressure.

The Prime Minister’s Office denied the report, calling it “untrue.”

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