Netanyahu tells Israeli commission that naval blockade of Gaza will continue

Israel’s Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu said Monday to Turkel Commission investigating what Netanyahu called the “maritime incident” that occurred when Israeli naval forces boarded the Freedom Flotilla at sea on 31 May that “As part of the effort to prevent the entry of weapons into the Gaza Strip, my government has continued the naval blockade that was imposed by the previous government during ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in January of 2009 as well as continuing the limitations and oversight on the movement of goods at land crossings that was put in place in September 2007 … Our policy, therefore, is intended to maintain the naval blockade which supports the security blockade”.

Netanyahu, who was the first person to testify at the first official session of the Turkel Commission, promised that “During the closed forum [a future event with restricted or no media coverage], I will expand on my statement and explain why none of our diplomatic efforts would have prevented the Marmara’s desire to try to break the blockade”.

The Israeli Prime Minister did note, in today’s statement, that “Given the lack of effective pressure by the Turkish government and the lack of any desire on the part of the flotilla organizers to redirect their ships to alternative ports, none of the diplomatic efforts were effective:
•We tried to prevent the launch of the flotilla at the diplomatic and security levels. We did not succeed.
•We suggested transferring the goods through the Ashdod and El-Arish ports. We did not succeed.
•We held continuous contacts vis-à-vis and with the most senior levels of the Turkish government. We did not succeed” …

Netanyahu pinned this list of Israeli failures on Turkey’s unsuccessful effort [with Brazil] to help work out a deal concerning Iran’s nuclear program: “I must point out that on the 17th of that month [May], the Turkish prime minister met with Iranian president Ahmadinejad and with the Brazilian president to make a joint statement regarding an Iranian nuclear that was opposed by the United States and the other permanent members of the UN Security Council. Turkey thereby strengthened its identification and cooperation with Iran just days before the flotilla”.

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