Monday, July 4, 2011

Rabbis for INhuman Rights-the flotilla

Perhaps RHR should consult with an expert on international law and
read the Palestinian-Israeli agreements before advising Israel to
agree to a breach of Palestinian obligations and a violation of
conditions set by Israel, the US, EU, UN and Russia for permitting
ships to reach Gaza.

The question of importing goods to Gaza was addressed in Annex I of
the Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement between Israel and the PLO,
signed in Washington in September 1995. According to Article XIV (4)
of that Agreement:

"Pending construction of a port, arrangements for entry and exit
of vessels passengers and goods by sea, as well as licenses for
vessels and crews sailing on international voyages in transit to the
West Bank and the Gaza Strip, shall be through Israeli ports in
accordance with the relevant rules and regulations applicable in
Israel and in accordance with the provisions of Annex V."

In other words, in accordance with the Interim Agreement, vessels,
passengers and goods cannot enter Gaza directly. Vessels bound for
Gaza must anchor at an Israeli port. Goods cannot be imported directly
into Gaza, and people cannot sail directly to the Gaza coast. All must
enter Gaza through the Israeli land crossings.

In 2005, following Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, Israel declared
its willingness to consider the establishment of a Gaza seaport, in
accordance with arrangements to be agreed upon. In November 2005, the
Government of Israel and the Palestinian Authority reached an
Agreement on Movement and Access from and to Gaza. The agreement
included provisions for the commencement of construction of the Gaza
port. The agreement was conditioned upon the preparatory work of a
U.S. led tripartite committee to develop security and other relevant
arrangements for the port prior to its opening.

In January 2006, elections were held for the Palestinian Legislative
Council. Hamas won a majority in those elections. Upon coming to
power, Hamas rejected the agreements made between Israel and the
Palestinian Authority, including the 2005 Agreement on Movement and
Access. This led to the imposition of economic sanctions by Israel and
the Quartet (United States, European Union, Russia and the United
Nations), and of course, put an end to the envisaged opening of a Gaza
port. The lifting of those sanctions was conditioned upon the
renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of the
previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Now, apparently unaware of the above, RHR proposes that Israel allow
ships to enter the Gaza port, although the Hamas has not met any of
the conditions set by Israel and the Quartet. Perhaps RHR should
reconsider after considering all of the relevant facts.

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