By Mya Guarnieri
Organizers of the US Boat to Gaza say that the Greek government has come under intense pressure from Israel. The Israeli government is allegedly using trade agreements with the Greeks as leverage.
Spokesman of the Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs Gregory Delavekouras confirmed that Israel had contacted Greece about the US Boat to Gaza, which organizers have leased from Greek owners, as well as the flotilla in general.
“We’ve been in touch with Israel, we know their position, they’ve made it very clear,” he said.
Delavekouras did not confirm nor deny that Israel had threatened trade agreements.
In a statement released Wednesday by the Greek MFA, officials said Greece’s positions on the need to lift the Gaza blockade and improve the humanitarian situation in the region are well known. Equally well known is Greece’s position of principle on the need to respect international law and avoid the use of violence.
The Foreign Ministry — bearing in mind the UN Secretary General’s request, the Israeli government’s stated intention not to allow vessels to approach the Gaza coast and the immediate danger to human life entailed in participation in the operation in question, particularly in light of last year’s events — urges Greek citizens as well as Greek-registered vessels not to participate in the new flotilla headed for the Gaza port.
Officials also stated that the government’s goal is to promote Greek interests. It reiterated that the blockade must end and added that peace talks represent “the only path to a comprehensive and viable solution on the Palestinian problem.”
Greece is in the midst of an economic crisis that has sparked massive protests. While the demonstrations led some observers to speculate that the government might fall, a vote of confidence this week has lessened that possibility.