State Department blames flotilla participants for ‘risks’ they incur from Israel

Israel/Palestine
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This statement at yesterday’s State Department briefing is appalling.  Note how spokesman Mark Toner passively refrains from attributing agency.  They don’t want to see people harmed, but Toner says nothing about insisting that Israel not harm passengers.  It’s practically an acknowledgment that Israel will harm people and that those people have been warned by the US, so Israel can now have a free hand.

QUESTION: Israeli – Israel television’s Channel 10 is reporting that the Secretary refused to meet with Israeli Foreign Minister Lieberman when they were both in Paris last week for the OECD events. Is there any truth to that?

MR. TONER: I don’t know, frankly.

QUESTION: Mark, sorry, about Israeli and Gaza aid ships. The Israeli military said it will stop new Gaza flotilla. Do you —

MR. TONER: Flotilla, yeah.

QUESTION: Yeah, do you know, flotilla. They said – and one of the reasons from last year’s raid was, they said, especially Turkey is waiting for apology and compensation. Are you talking to Israeli government? Are they going to intervene in international waters or in Israeli waters?

MR. TONER: I’m sorry, so what’s just – the question is?

QUESTION: Yeah. Israeli military says they will stop new Gaza —

MR. TONER: Who says?

QUESTION: Israeli military.

MR. TONER: Okay.

QUESTION: They said they will stop new ships, new aid ships, international —

MR. TONER: Right, right. Okay.

QUESTION: — flotilla. Yeah. Are you talking to the Israeli government? Are they planning to intervene these ships in international waters? Is it okay with U.S. Government? Or in Israeli waters?

MR. TONER: We have made clear through the past year that groups and individuals who seek to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza are taking irresponsible and provocative actions that entail a risk to their safety. I think I’ve talked about this specifically. We’ve raised our concerns with the Turkish Government as well, and we’ve also met and said publicly as well as privately, meeting with some of these NGOs, that – about our concerns, about the risk for attempting to break this blockade. We want to just reiterate that there are established and efficient mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance through to Gaza, and that’s been our message consistently. You’re asking me if we’ve raised it with the Israelis?

QUESTION: The Israelis, and if they’re going to intervene these ships in international waters (inaudible).

MR. TONER: You have to – I mean, I’d have to refer you to the Israeli Government as to what their actions may be if people attempt to break the blockade. Our message has been consistent, that there established mechanisms for getting humanitarian assistance into Gaza and that flotilla actions are indeed provocative, and we don’t want to see anybody harmed.

QUESTION: And you contacted NGOs, right, the special NGOs?

MR. TONER: Yeah.

QUESTION: Okay. Thank you, Mark.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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