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Monday, June 27, 2011

Mideast Media Sampler 06/27/2011

From DG:
1) Blockade legal

Article in Ha'aretz, Israeli official: Turkey wants UN to tone down report on Gaza flotilla raid (h/t Hillel Neuer rt by Noah Pollak)

Assuming the article is accurate, the report prepared by the UN about the Mavi Marmara incident drew some interesting conclusions.


The committee determined that Israel's naval blockade of Gaza is in keeping with international law, and therefore its actions to stop the flotilla were also legal.
According to a senior government official in Jerusalem, the report criticizes the Turkish government and highlights the relationship between it and IHH, the group that organized the flotilla.
The report also states that, while Israel Defense Forces soldiers acted in self-defense, they used disproportionate force that led to the death of nine Turkish citizens. The report recommends that Israel pay compensation to the families of the dead and injured Turkish citizens, which Israel has already said it is willing to do. 
The official said the Turks would like to soften the parts of the report that could cause a political storm in Turkey. 
On the one hand, the source, an anonymous government official, may have his own game. On the other hand what would such an official gain from lying? The truth about the report will be known soon enough 

If the blockade and enforcement of the blockade are legal, then how was the assault "disproportionate?" Was Israeli navy supposed to sacrifice a certain number of commandos? And I don't understand why Israel would agree to compensation. It wasn't the Israeli raid which contributed to the crisis in relations with Turkey, it was the choice of Turkey's leadership to cozy up to Islamists. If the blockade is legal, then the Turkish sponsorship of the flotilla was close to an act of war.

When the New York Times reported on the results of the Israeli inquiry into the Mavi Marmara in January, this is what was reported:

The commission alluded to “the regrettable consequences of the loss of human life and physical injuries” — nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed and more than 50 were wounded during clashes on a Turkish vessel that was trying to breach the blockade. But the commission found that Israeli soldiers had acted “professionally and in a measured manner in the face of extensive and unanticipated violence.” 
The raid stirred international outrage and condemnation of Israel and its blockade of the Gaza Strip, and Israeli officials were hoping that the investigation would win the country at least some foreign support. But critics argued that the findings were a foregone conclusion. 
“This committee was suspect from the beginning,” said Moshe Negbi, the legal commentator for Israel Radio, “because it was appointed by the government, because this was not a state commission of inquiry.” 
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, dismissed the report, saying Sunday that it had “no value or credibility.” 
In other words the reporting of the Times came down on the side of "international outrage and condemnation." But if the UN, an institution not known for its friendliness to Israel, concluded that the blockade is legal, then the Times needs to rewrite something.

Reuters reported something similar on June 6.

The report was initially scheduled to be issued on May 15. Israeli officials said it was postponed because the Turkish representative on the panel was unhappy that the findings went a long way toward vindicating Israel’s blockade of Gaza, and did not condemn strongly enough Israel’s use of force.
Furthermore:

Israeli officials suggested that the Turkish representative on the panel was keen on postponing the presentation of the final report until after Sunday’s Turkish elections, so as not to complicate matters for Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan if the report ended up supporting, even in part, Israel’s positions on the legality of the blockade and the soldiers’ actions.

UN officials have said that it may not be able to produce a consensus document.

Regarding another Gaza-bound flotilla expected later this month, Ban noted that he wrote letters to leaders of certain Mediterranean states from which the flotillas might sail, advising against the move.
Two weeks ago the public editor of the New York Times wrote that it was impossible to write about the Middle East without upsetting one side or the other, Where words can never do justice.

Now it's starting to appear that the UN will justify the Israeli blockade in some manner. Can we expect the New York Times to report on Ban Ki Moon's report?


2) Not so Greece-y

Greece has detained 6 flotilla related boats in response to a complaint filed by Shurat Hadin. (h/t Challah hu Akbar)

The Jerusalem Post reports about the complaint:

The complaint, filed to Greek harbormasters, alleged that the boat was not seaworthy and accused the organizers sailing the ship of aiding terror, according to thereport. Additionally, the organization reportedly sent letters to 36 American citizens planning on sailing in the flotilla, warning them that their participation may constitute a violation of American criminal law.

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