Mission & Name
US Foreign Policy (Dr. El-Najjar's Articles)
Israel's contempt for Law of the Seas and EU's
Contempt for Safety of Its Citizens
By Stuart Littlewood
Redress, Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, June 27, 2011
highlights the European Union’s willful failure to protect the citizens of
its member states in the face of Israel’s explicit threat to murder
humanitarian workers planning to take part in the upcoming aid flotilla to
In 2008 two humanitarian vessels got through to Gaza. In
an article entitled “Keeping
the sea-lane to Gaza open”, I wrote:
The success of the Free Gaza
boats in breaking the siege, and their safe arrival and departure, was
due to the intervention and good offices of the British Foreign Office…
Before the peace activists set sail, the British government was
asked about “action to ensure the freedom boats’ safe and uninterrupted
passage to Gaza considering these are international waters and
Palestinian territorial waters”. Any attempt to stop the boats would
surely infringe the right to freedom of movement to and from Gaza, and
seriously breach the International Covenant on Economic, Social and
Cultural Rights, to which Israel is a party.
The minister in
charge of Middle East affairs Kim Howells ... has now revealed that "FCO
officials spoke to Israeli officials in advance of the trip and Israel
allowed the boats peacefully into Gaza".
Bravo. Our chaps in
London lift the phone to their chaps in Tel Aviv and – hey presto! –
it’s all fixed. That’s diplomacy…
“In the UK and the EU we are losing control fast and will
soon become abject Zionist stooges like America. It will
soon be impossible to take back our country without
organizing serious insurrection.”
Yet here we are nearly three years later going through the same sorry
process while ruthless foreign interests still relentlessly expand their
influence by stealth, by subversion and by intimidation to persuade the rest
of the world to let them do as they please in the Middle East and beyond.
In the UK and the EU we are losing control fast and will soon become
abject Zionist stooges like America. It will soon be impossible to take back
our country without organizing serious insurrection.
And on the high
seas Israeli warships and helicopters assault and hijack vessels of other
nations with impunity in order to maintain their illegal blockade of Gaza.
The Jerusalem Post
reports that the German Left Party has issued a resolution prohibiting
its parliamentary representatives from taking part in the upcoming Gaza
Flotilla in an attempt to buy off criticism that the party is anti-Israel
and anti-Semitic. They will not participate “in Middle East conflict
initiatives that call for a one-state solution for Palestine and Israel and
boycotts of Israeli products, as well this year’s Gaza Flotilla”.
expert on left-wing anti-Semitism called Alex Feuerherdt told the newspaper
that “it goes without saying” that participation in the Gaza Flotilla action
is a “military attack on Israel”.
Such are the lengths to which the
Zionist conspiracy will go to control the thoughts and actions of ordinary,
And this is the background against which the Gaza
Freedom Flotilla II sets sail. The conspirators don’t want the boats to
reach Gaza because their safe arrival would drive a coach and horses through
the Zionists' control-freakery. So they shriek and squawk and threaten dire
consequences like last year when they assaulted the Mavi Marmara with lethal
force in international waters, not caring how many they killed.
has prompted the following statement by the flotilla organizers to the UN
Human Rights Council a few days ago:
We are determined to sail to
Gaza. Our cause is just and our means are transparent. To underline the
fact that we do not present an imminent threat to Israel nor do we aim
to contribute to a war effort against Israel, thus eliminating any claim
by Israel to self-defense, we invite the HRC or any other UN or
international agency to come on board and inspect our vessels at their
point of departure, on the high seas, or on their arrival in the Gaza
port. We will – and must – continue to sail until the illegal siege of
Gaza is ended and Palestinians have the same human and national rights
those of us sailing enjoy. (Steering Committee of the International
Coalition for Gaza Freedom Flotilla II)
One of the organizers in London tells me that when the British boat's
final passenger list is confirmed, the Foreign Office in London will be
contacted with the details and asked to "act to ensure the safe passage of
Did the UK have a right to mount a general naval blockade of the
Republic of Ireland in response to IRA terror?
Israel is clearly acting illegally by interfering with the flotilla’s
peaceful mission, so what are the chances that Britain and other countries
will provide necessary protection?
UN fact-finding mission, dealing with the assault on the Mavi
Marmara, has already declared that “no case can be made for the legality of
the interception and the mission therefore finds that the interception was
As for Israel’s naval blockade, it is “considered by the
mission to constitute collective punishment of the people living in the Gaza
Strip and thus to be illegal and contrary to Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention”. The action by Israel’s military in intercepting the Mavi
Marmara on the high seas was "clearly unlawful" and could not be justified
even under Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations [the right of
And let’s remember that Security Council Resolution
1860 (2009) emphasizes "the need to ensure sustained and regular flow of
goods and people through the Gaza crossings" and calls for "the unimpeded
provision and distribution throughout Gaza of humanitarian assistance,
including of food, fuel and medical treatment".
The Centre for
Constitutional Rights has also
concluded that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal
under international law. It said:
Due both to the legal nature
of Israel’s relationship to Gaza – that of occupier – and the impact of
the blockade on the civilian population, amounting to “collective
punishment”, the blockade cannot be reconciled with the principles of
international law, including international humanitarian law. It is
recalled that the international community, speaking through both the
United Nations and individual states, has repeatedly and emphatically
called for an end to the blockade of the Gaza Strip.
did not seek to travel to Israel, let alone “attack” Israel.
Furthermore, the flotilla did not constitute an act which required an
“urgent” response, such that Israel had to launch a middle-of-the-night
armed boarding ... Israel could also have diplomatically engaged Turkey,
arranged for a third party to verify there were no weapons on board and
then peacefully guided the vessel to Gaza.
“When the UK suffered continued terrorist attack from the
Irish Republican Army ... it would have been ridiculous to
argue that the UK had a right to mount a general naval
blockade of the Republic of Ireland.”
Craig Murray was deputy head of the teams which negotiated the UK’s
maritime boundaries with France, Germany, Denmark (Faeroe Islands) and
Ireland. As Head of the Maritime Section of the Foreign and Commonwealth
Office, he was responsible for giving political and legal clearance to Royal
Navy boarding operations in the Persian Gulf following the Iraqi invasion of
Kuwait, in enforcement of the UN authorized blockade against Iraqi weapons
shipments. He is therefore an internationally recognized authority on these
Referring to the participation of an American boat in
Flotilla II, he
Right of free passage is
guaranteed by the UN Convention on the Law of the Seas, to which the
United States is a full party. Any incident which takes place upon a
US-flagged ship on the high seas is subject to United States legal
jurisdiction. A ship is entitled to look to its flag state for
protection from attack on the high seas...
Israel has declared a
blockade on Gaza and justified previous fatal attacks on neutral
civilian vessels on the high seas in terms of enforcing that embargo,
under the legal cover given by the
San Remo Manual of International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at
There are however fundamental flaws in this line of
argument. It falls completely on one fact alone. San Remo only applies
to blockade in times of armed conflict. Israel is not currently engaged
in an armed conflict, and presumably does not wish to be. San Remo does
not confer any right to impose a permanent blockade outwith times of
armed conflict, and in fact specifically excludes as illegal a general
blockade on an entire population.
He acknowledges that Israel suffers from sporadic terrorist attacks from
Gaza but this does not come close to reaching the bar of armed conflict that
would trigger the right to impose a naval blockade. When the UK suffered
continued terrorist attack from the Irish Republican Army, sustaining many
more deaths than anything Israel has suffered in recent years from Gaza, it
would have been ridiculous to argue that the UK had a right to mount a
general naval blockade of the Republic of Ireland.
So Israel doesn’t
have a leg to stand on. Therefore "all good men and true" should rally to
support these brave voyagers and ensure their governments back their play.
But here’s a
question put by Member of the European Parliament Kyriacos
Triantaphyllides and the answer from the EU Commission.
Question: One year
after the military action by Israel against a convoy carrying
humanitarian aid supplies to Gaza, during which at least 10 civilians
were killed, another humanitarian aid flotilla to Gaza is now being
organized, the principal cargo being supplies of stationery for school
pupils. Is the EU and in particular the Commission aware of the new
mission that is being organized and what is its position on this matter?
Given the participation of EU member state nationals and the
presence of MEPs, will the EU take any measures to ensure that the
personal safety of its nationals is not endangered?
After the organization of a flotilla heading to Gaza in May 2010, the
Quartet, of which the EU is a member, stated that all those wishing to
deliver goods to Gaza should do so through established channels, so that
their cargo can be inspected and transferred via land crossings into
Gaza. It also stated that there was no need for unnecessary
confrontations and that all parties should act responsibly in meeting
the needs of the people of Gaza.
In the same spirit, the Chair’s
Conclusions of the 13 April 2011 meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee
(AHLC) on donor coordination for Palestine reiterated a call on all
international supporters to make use of the existing land crossings to
channel their support to Gaza, and abstain from provocations.
commission stands by this line. A flotilla is not the appropriate
response to the humanitarian situation in Gaza. At the same time, Israel
must abide by international law when dealing with a possible flotilla.
The EU continues to request the lifting of the blockade on Gaza,
including the naval blockade.
EU member states have the
responsibility to protect their citizens abroad via their consular
services. This responsibility covers assistance for their citizens who
might participate in a possible flotilla. As in May-June 2010, the EU
delegation in Tel Aviv stands ready to function as a hub for information
and to coordinate the efforts of the consular services of EU member
So there your have it – the treacherous contradictions we have come to
expect from this unelected body, including advice that member states have a
responsibility to protect their citizens after they’ve been
The “established channel” for delivering goods to Gaza is
of course the time-honoured route by sea, which is protected by maritime and
international law and therefore entirely appropriate. There’s nothing
“provocative” about it. The organizers have offered their cargoes for
inspection and verification by a trusted third party to allay Israel’s fears
about weapon supplies. They should not have to dirty their hands dealing
with the belligerent regime that’s cruelly turning the screws on civilians
with an illegal blockade. Anyone suggesting they must do so seeks to
legitimize the blockade, which we all know to be illegal and a crime against
Members of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee include the
Palestinian Authority and the government of Israel, so no wonder it bends
over backwards to accommodate Israel’s criminal action.