Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Averting Another Flotilla Crisis

The Turkish NGO Foundation for Human Rights and Freedoms and Humanitarian Relief (IHH) is preparing another flotilla campaign involving vessels sailing from multiple European countries, including the Mavi Marmara, which will once again sail from Turkey. The vessels are set to sail after the Turkish elections on June 12.

Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Philip Gordon has said the United States is urging Turkey not to allow the IHH to send another flotilla. In testimony to the U.S. Senate before Congress yesterday, Gordon said, “In the year since the last flotilla episode, Israel has changed the humanitarian regime for Gaza [and] made it very clear that there are alternative ways to get humanitarian assistance to Gaza. We have been very clear with the Turkish government that that’s the case.”

The Turkish government, as before, has said that Turkey is in no position to prevent lawfully registered NGOs from setting sail for Gaza. The IHH is accepting applications for the campaign, heavily advertising in Turkey and throughout Europe.

For more on the IHH and last year's flotilla incident, click here. For my feature in the Jerusalem Post analyzing Turkey-Israel relations in the wake of the flotilla, click here.

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