Netanyahu: Naval blockade on Gaza will not be lifted
Abbas denies Haaretz report that he had asked Obama to prevent the lifting of the naval blockade on Gaza.
June 13, 2010
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday that he supports easing the three-year blockade Israel has imposed on the Gaza Strip, but that he would not approve the lifting of the naval blockade on the Hamas-ruled territory.
With this declaration, Netanyahu rejected the proposal made by the foreign ministers of France, Spain and Italy, who suggested that in the future, Gaza-bound ships be searched by European inspectors in Cyprus.
The suggestion was made after a clash between Israeli navy commandos and Turkish activists aboard a Gaza-bound aid ship, part of a flotilla of ships aiming to break the blockade, resulted in the deaths of nine activists last month.
Netanyahu said during the meeting that "Israel will continue to prevent ships from reaching Gaza, while simultaneously easing the blockade." He added that other nations in the region also oppose lifting the naval blockade, saying that "the arrival of ships directly to Gaza is problematic, not only for us, but for others as well."
Netanyahu's remarks came following a report in Haaretz that Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had told U.S. President Barack Obama during his recent visit to Washington that he opposed the lifting of the naval blockade because such a move would bolster Hamas, the rival of Abbas' Fatah party.
However, Abbas' spokesman issued a denial on Sunday in response to the morning's report, explaining to the Palestinain Wafa news agency that the Palestinian president had told Obama that the lifting of the blockade on Gaza was like the peace process in the sense that "the president [Abbas] has raised the demand to lift the blockade in all his meetings with world leaders."
"The world should take advantage of the events of the Gaza flotilla to push Israel to lift the blockade and end the suffering of Gaza's inhabitants," The spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudaina, added.
Meanwhile Sunday, Netanyahu said that on Wednesday he would convene the cabinet for a meeting on the Gaza blockade and the events aboard the Turkish Gaza-bound aid ship.