Posts Tagged ‘Gaza’

Gaza bombings rock Palestinian reconciliation

November 21, 2014

By Nicola Nasser*

It is ironic that the annual commemoration of the death of Yasser Arafat should turn into an occasion for rekindling the flames of internal strife. This was clearly the aim of last week’s bombings that targeted the homes of Fatah leaders in Gaza, as well as the podium for the commemorative ceremonies of Arafat, who strove to make Palestinian national unity one of the pillars of his political legacy.

How desperately those concerned need to be inspired by the political legacy of that great president.

During a visit to demonstrate solidarity with the West Bank village of Al-Mughayyar, where settlers, under the protective eye of occupation soldiers, set fire to a mosque, Director of the Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowments) Kamel Abu Aliya remarked that his ministry have documented 20 similar attacks on mosques in the West Bank since 2011.

In targeting mosques, the occupation is clearly targeting major symbols of national and popular unity. Mosques, by definition, gather people together rather than drive them apart. Inside the mosque all the factions of the national struggle that are at odds with each other assemble as one with their fellow men, in solid ranks with a single heart.

The occupation has never foregone any means at its disposal to drive a wedge into the Palestinian national ranks. This has not changed. So it is ironic that the bombings would become an occasion to present the occupation with the gift of factional polarisation and a war of words, at a time when the factions most need to be united, and that they would serve to turn the national compass away from Jerusalem, on which Arafat had set his national compass until his dying breath.

But here is another important point. Both sides of the dispute — Fatah and Hamas — have condemned the attacks, denied all charges of responsibility and insist on the need to conduct an investigation into bombings as quickly as possible.

If these two factions can agree on these points, what would keep them from agreeing to form a joint fact-finding committee that would include representatives from all other factions (most notably the Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front) and independent figures from civil society that would be committed to publishing its findings in fulfilment of the right of the Palestinian people to know the truth?

Moreover, why couldn’t the creation of a joint committee such as this become a new mechanism for enhancing national reconciliation and ending acrimonious exchanges before they spiral out of control?

In this regard, when Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas says that he is not interested in “an investigation by them” — referring to Hamas, of course — but does not propose an alternative investigatory mechanism, he is not helping efforts to unearth the truth, which his people are more eager to learn than the two factions whose protracted dispute has exhausted their people.

But the most appalling irony resides in their aversion to turning the finger of accusation in the direction of the ultimate beneficiary from all this — namely, the Israeli occupation authority and its state. A focus on that beneficiary would suffice, in and of itself, to contain the dangerous repercussions of the bombings on national unity and, simultaneously, to expose the truth about the existence of parties who fear their interests would be jeopardised by the end of the rift in both the occupied West Bank and blockaded Gaza Strip.

These parties are exploited, knowingly or not, by the occupation, and collectively they form a “fifth column” that works to obstruct the process of national reconciliation in order to safeguard their interests.

But even if those who carried out the bomb attacks were Palestinian this does not obscure the identity of the first and foremost beneficiary. This, moreover, comes at a time when the occupation is escalating its aggression against the Palestinian people under occupation.

It is increasing its forces in the West Bank, intensifying its repressive measures and moving to augment its budget for settlement expansion. More significantly, the Israeli government recently approved a bill of law to extend the laws of the Israeli state to the Jewish colonies in the West Bank, as is the case in East Jerusalem and the occupied Syrian Golan Heights. In other words, we are effectively speaking of another Israeli annexation bid.

The history of dissension and strife is repeating itself. A statement by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) urges Fatah and Hamas to exercise restraint and to remain alert to the conspiracies that are being woven against the Palestinian people.

It cautions the two factions against falling into the Israeli trap of igniting Palestinian discord and urges them to give competent agencies and relevant political authorities sufficient time to unearth the threads of the crime.

Yet this statement, which applies perfectly to the current situation, was issued by the PFLP in July 2008 after four Ezz Al-Din Al-Qassam Brigade members were killed in a bombing on Gaza beach. At the time, Hamas accused Fatah and the Fatah charged Hamas with carrying out an “internal purge.”

Nothing appears to have changed, apart from the fact that today Fatah accuses Hamas of planting the bombs and the latter responds that the attack was related to an internal conflict inside Fatah. In both cases, the occupation power and its government come out innocent!

That rush to judgment and finger pointing before the smoke has cleared is suspicious and raises questions regarding the political motives behind such reactions. One is reminded of a similar case of accusations that were hurled after the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Al-Hariri in 2005.

Before his blood had dried some fingers in Lebanon pointed to Syria, even though it was palpably evident that Damascus could not have been behind the crime as it was fully aware that it could only be harmed by the consequences.

The same applies to Hamas today. After its long political experience it would realise that it could only stand to lose from the Gaza bombings.

The hands that carried out the bombings in Gaza might be Palestinian and even Fatah or Hamas hands, but those who issued the orders could not have been Palestinian decision-makers. Anyone familiar with the history of Palestinian assassinations knows this.

The perpetrators may have been motivated by personal interests but the consequences cannot possibly serve Palestinian interests, factional or otherwise. They can only serve the occupation authority and its state, especially as the victim is certainly the Palestinian people and their national unity.

The fifth column that benefits from Palestinian division and that feels threatened by its end is still searching for opportunities to sabotage Palestinian national reconciliation. It must have seen the Gaza bombings as a perfect opportunity to fan the flames of discord, offering a service free of charge to the occupation (presuming the best possible intentions under that situation), or not free of charge (presuming the worst).

It does not take much effort to reach the above conclusion. However, building on it by containing the unpatriotic repercussions of the attacks requires great thought and effort in order to prevent outbursts of factional acrimony or to keep them contained in order to safeguard national reconciliation from collapse.

This is essential to ensure that the reconstruction of Gaza moves forward, to sustain the national unity government and to return the focus to solidifying national ranks in the face of the occupation’s ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people, their security and wellbeing and their sanctities, and behind the political battle that the Palestinian presidency is waging in the international arena.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com). This article was translated from Arabic and first published by Al-Ahram Weekly on November 20, 2014.

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Palestinian reconciliation at crossroads

September 15, 2014

By Nicola Nasser*
President Mahmoud Abbas and the Fatah movement, which he commands, have unleashed a media campaign against Hamas and the resistance. If pressure from the Palestinian public fails to stop the campaign, Abbas may achieve politically what Israel failed to achieve militarily: forcing the Palestinian presidency to choose “peace with Israel” over national reconciliation.

It appears that President Abbas has, indeed, prioritised “peace with Israel.” He has devised plans for resuming negotiations, and is still banking on American support for such talks. This is the only explanation for the current anti-Hamas media campaign.

Abbas sent his negotiators — Saeb Erekat, Majed Faraj and Maen Erekat — to Washington, where they met with US Secretary of State John Kerry a week ago last Wednesday. US State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki described the more than two-hour meeting as “constructive”. Abbas then prepared to obtain an Arab mandate, which seems guaranteed in advance, for his plans from the 142nd session of the Arab foreign ministers conference, held in Cairo this week.

However, US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power poured cold water over the Palestinian Authority (PA) president’s bid to obtain US backing for his plan, which he intends to put before the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly. The proposal would end the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and Gaza within three years, during which period negotiations would resume within three months with the occupying power over its borders with the Palestinian state.

“We don’t think there are shortcuts or unilateral measures that can be taken at the United Nations or anyplace else that will bring about the outcome that the Palestinian people most seek,” Power said in a press conference last week. “To think that you can come to New York and secure what needs to be worked out on the ground is not realistic.”

This clearly translates into an unequivocal US “No.” The Palestinian president’s new plan has run up against the same American wall that Palestinian negotiators have faced since negotiations were adopted as a strategic approach. The Zionist route remains the only way these negotiators can access the White House and the UN Security Council.

There can be only one explanation for this plan. It is in fulfilment of a Palestinian promise not to resist the occupation and to offer the occupying power the opportunity to agree to yet another futile round of negotiations. Such negotiations will give Israel the time it needs to turn the Givaot colony into a major settler city on the 4,000 dunams of Palestinian land that it has just seized by declaring it “state land”.

The purpose of this appropriation is to separate the Hebron and South Bethlehem governorates in the West Bank. It is also a means to deflect international humanitarian pressure in reaction to Israeli war crimes in Gaza, to evade Israel’s obligations to the truce agreement with the resistance in Gaza, and to fuel internal Palestinian tensions until they reignite once more.

It was not Hamas or the resistance that described Abbas’s new plan as a “spurious process”. It was independent Palestinian figures who expressed their views in a statement read out by Mamdouh Al-Akr, general commissioner of the Independent Organisation of Human Rights, on 2 September in Ramallah. They called for an urgent meeting of the unified leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), in accordance with the Cairo agreement of 2011, so that it can serve as a frame of reference for the Palestinian will and take critical national decisions.

Activating the unified leadership framework of the PLO will put President Abbas’s call for a “single Palestinian central authority”, uniquely empowered to “determine matters of war and peace”, into its concrete national context. Only this context can confer legitimacy on a Palestinian leadership that does not derive its authority from resisting the occupation in all forms.

Moreover, the currently missing “electoral legitimacy” is no longer sufficient in and of itself to allow Palestinian decisions on war and peace to remain in the hands of a leadership that is the product of elections that were held with the approval of the occupation power and in the framework of agreements signed with it.

The Palestinian presidency has dropped the available option of resistance from the lexicon of its negotiating strategy, let alone the option of war, which is not available. The PA, in coordination with the occupation’s security apparatus, has become “the security proxy for the occupying power, rather than an instrument to end the occupation and establish the state,” as Palestinian analyst Hani Al-Masri wrote on 26 August.

As a result, the occupying power, alone, holds the keys to the decision of war, which it continues to repeat, and to the decision of peace, which it still refuses to take.

It appears that President Abbas is working against the tide of Palestinian public opinion, as voiced in a recent survey conducted by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research (PCPSR) in Ramallah. According to this poll, only 22 per cent of respondents supported a resumption of negotiations, while 53 per cent said they regarded resistance as “the more effective way” to realise the creation of a Palestinian state.

The results of the PCPSR poll contradict all the charges levelled by the president and Fatah against the resistance and Hamas. Of those polled, 79 per cent believe that the resistance emerged victorious from the recent war, while 86 per cent support the defensive use of rockets.

Respondents gave very low ratings to the performance of the Palestinian president, the PA, the national unity government and the PLO, while the approval rating for Hamas was 88 per cent.

What is the substance of this media campaign against Hamas? It ranges from blaming Hamas for prolonging the war and for the consequent loss of lives and material damage, to adopting the Israeli narrative regarding a Hamas-engineered “coup attempt” against the president in the West Bank and the existence of a “shadow government” in Gaza that prevents the national unity government from functioning.

Then there are the charges of keeping Fatah members under “house arrest”, of “opening fire on civilians”, and of “selling emergency relief on the black market.” On top of these come the accusation that Hamas has violated “the law that defines the colours and dimensions of the flag.”

President Abbas’s instructions to create a “committee to hold a dialogue” with Hamas to discuss the “fate of the national unity government,” as announced by Amin Maqboul, secretary of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, does little to encourage optimism. The national unity government, national reconciliation, the Cairo agreement of 2011, the unified leadership framework that it stipulated, and the reactivation of the PLO, all stand at a crossroads.

This is because of the confrontation stirred by the systematic smear campaign that President Abbas and the Fatah movement are waging against Hamas and the resistance. The campaign has created a media smokescreen behind which the occupation authority can conceal its foot-dragging in carrying out its obligations under the truce agreement, which will probably be echoed in Israeli procrastination on continuing with truce talks due to be held in Cairo.

It should also be stressed that to accuse the resistance and Hamas of prolonging the war is to exonerate the occupation power of responsibility. The Israeli media was quick to capitalise on this, further proof of the extensive coverage the campaign has received.

Indeed, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev virtually reiterated it verbatim when he said that the Egyptian initiative was on the table from 15 July and that while the Arab League and Israel had approved the initiative, Hamas rejected it, only to turn around and agree to it a month later. “If [Hamas] had agreed then to what it agrees to now” it would have been possible “to avoid all that bloodshed,” he said.

The investigatory commission appointed by the UN Human Rights Council will most likely cite the president’s charges to strengthen the claims of the occupying power, as these charges would be regarded as “testimony of a witness from the other side.”

Abbas says that while the “final toll” from the most recent war in Gaza was 2,140 dead, “if added to the number of dead in previous wars, and those who died during the period of the Shalit problem, the number would be 10,000 dead and wounded, in addition to the 35,000 homes that were totally or partially destroyed.”

When Abbas says that “it would have been possible” to avert the human and material losses of the recent conflict he is effectively blaming the resistance, not the occupation, for the last war on Gaza and the two wars since 2008 that preceded it.

The spectre of discord once again hovers over Palestinian unity, with Palestinian opinion divided over a programme of negotiations versus a programme of resistance. This is the breach through which Arab and non-Arab “axes” penetrate into the Palestinian interior, deepening rather than mending Palestinian rifts.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com). This article was first published and translated from Arabic by Al-Ahram Weekly on September 11, 2014.

Israel Is Fueling Anti-Americanism among U.S. Allies

June 8, 2010

By Nicola Nasser*

The attack in the international waters of the Mediterranean in the early hours of May 31 by an elite force of the Israeli navy on the Turkish – flagged Mavi Marmara civilian ferry crammed with more than 700 international activists, including several Americans, carrying 100 tonnes of cargo including concrete, medicines and children’s toys, and leading five smaller vessels of the Free Gaza Flotilla, which left eight Turks and a U.S. citizen of Turkish origin dead and wounded several others, has cornered the United States in a defensive diplomatic position to contain the regional and international fallout of the military fiasco of the “Operation Sky Wind” its Israeli regional ally launched against the flotilla; it “puts the United States in an extremely difficult position,” Marina Ottaway wrote in a report published by Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on May 31.

Containing angry Arab reaction and adverse repercussions on Arab – U.S. relations was most likely on the agenda of U.S. Vice President Joe Biden’s meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh on Monday. However Biden is the least qualified to allay Arab anger for being the most vocal among U.S. officials in “legitimizing” Israel’s blunder. The Gaza flotilla episode has dispelled the benefit of doubt the Arab allies have given to President Barak Obama’s promises of change in U.S. foreign policy in their region. To regain Arab confidence it needs more than U.S. official visits whether by Biden or by a better choice because at the end of the day politics is not about “good intentions”, but is rather about “good deeds,” according to the Egyptian veteran political analyst Fahmy Howeidy.

Despite a pronounced belief to the contrary by U.S. Senator Kerry, the Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the head of Israel’s Mossad, Meir Dagan, was more to the point when he said last week that “Israel is gradually turning from an asset to the United States to a burden.” Earlier this year CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus told the Senate Armed Services Committee that “Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in CENTCOM’s area of operations and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world.” Israel seems determined to complicate Petraeus’ mission further.

Washington has found its diplomacy faced with an Israeli fait accompli to be involuntarily embroiled in what the Israeli media harshly criticized as a tactical failure, which engulfed the U.S. administration in the roaring Arab and Muslim anger to be accused of being a partner to the Israeli adventure, thus fueling anti – Americanism in the same arena where the administration is doing its best to defuse and contain the anti – Americanism that was escalated by the invasion of Iraq in 2003, i.e. among U.S. regional allies. Once more, the Free Gaza Flotilla episode “will raise questions —not for the first time—over whether (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu can be a dependable partner for the United States,” Michele Dunne wrote in a Carnegie Endowment report.

Ironically, the fiasco of the Israeli “Operation Sky Wind” has created a snowballing conflict not between Israel and its self-proclaimed arch enemy Iran, but with Turkey, traditionally Israel’s only regional friend, a key regional power, a NATO member, a U.S. ally and a hopeful of EU membership, as well as with the U.S. – allied camp of Arab and Palestinian moderates, whom both Israel and the United States endeavor to recruit in a unified anti – Iran front and who are their partners in the U.S. – sponsored Arab – Israeli “peace process, which Washington is now weighing in heavily to resume its Palestinian – Israeli track.

Israel is not making U.S. life easier in the region. “That’s it, Israel. Put your best friend on the spot, with stupid acts of belligerency, when hundreds of its sons and daughters are dying fighting your avowed enemy. It is time Israel realized that it has obligations to the United States,” wrote Anthony Cordesman, an analyst at the mainstream Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington (CSIS). Stephen Walt, a Harvard international-relations professor and co-author of the 2007 book, “The Israel Lobby and U.S. Foreign Policy,” agreed. Professor of International Relations at New York University, Alon Ben Meir, concluded in American Diplomacy on May 10th: “The Netanyahu government seems to miss-assess the changing strategic interests of the United States in the Middle East, especially in the wake of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

However official Washington so far acts and speaks in a way that would contain adverse fallout of the Free Gaza Flotilla episode on bilateral relations with Israel, otherwise it would make a bad situation worse if one is to remember that the episode made Netanyahu cancel a summit meeting with Obama – after he was forced to cut short his visit to Canada – that was scheduled specifically to mend bilateral fences. But the motion which was unusually “personally” presented to the Israeli Knesset by the opposition leader, Tzipi Livni, for a no-confidence vote in Netanyahu’s government on Monday because, as she said, “the current government doesn’t represent the State of Israel to the world” and hurts “ties with the United States” made public what the U.S. administration has been trying to keep away from the spotlights. Trying to defuse the repercussions of Israel’s blunder, the U.S. leaned on Israel “quite a lot” to release hundreds of Turkish peace activists who were on board of Mavi Marmara, Turkey’s Deputy Under Secretary for public diplomacy Selim Yenel told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday. Fueling anti – Americanism among Arabs and Muslims is absolutely not in the interests of the United States, but this is exactly what current Israeli policies boil down to. Soaring Israeli – U.S. relations further was the first casualty of the Israeli attack.

Disrupting U.S. regional strategic plans was the second U.S. interest threatened by the attack. Both sides of the Arab and Turkish – U.S. alliance find themselves now on the opposite side of the Arab – Israeli conflict, which was on the verge of an historic breakthrough on the basis of the U.S. – sponsored so –called “two – state solution”, which enjoys the support of the major world powers thanks only to all of them being on the same side. The U.S. – led Middle East camp seems now fractured and divided. The opposite camp led by Iran and Syria seems more confident and united. The U.S. position is weaker and their stance is stronger. Washing seems to loose the initiative in the region to its adversaries thanks to Israel initiating a conflict with U.S. moderate allies. For Israel and its U.S. advocates this should flash a red light.

In this context, U.S. presidential peace envoy to the region, George Mitchell, who unfortunately was already in the region trying, unsuccessfully yet, to overcome the adverse reaction of these same allies to other Israeli blunders, should have lamented his Israeli bad luck and regretted his mission. General Secretary of the Arab League, Amr Mousa, said that “everything” is now left “hanging in the air,”, including mainly the Palestinian – Israeli “proximity talks,” the focus of Mitchell’s mission.

In the wider context, the emergency meeting of the Arab foreign ministers in Cairo on June 2 was in direct opposition to the U.S. stance vis-à-vis the Israeli attack, in terminology, perspective and demands, but specially as regards the U.S. – Israeli justifications for continuing the blockade of Gaza. To make their message for lifting the siege clear, Mousa was scheduled to visit Gaza next week. Without naming the U.S., they stressed that the continued support to Israel “by some states” and giving “immunity” to its disrespect of international law “in a precedent that threatens the whole international system .. is a big political mistake.” They reiterated that the Arab Peace Initiative “will not remain on the table for long.” 60 percent of Arabs now believe Obama is too weak to deliver a peace agreement, according to a recent poll conducted by YouGov and quoted by The Christian Science monitor on June 4.

The Arab hard core of the U.S. assets of moderates is the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC); in a statement, they condemned the attack as an act of “state terrorism.” Kuwait, a member, stands among them as an instructive example of how Israel is fueling anti – Americanism. This country which hosts some twenty thousand U.S. troops on reportedly one third of its territory in support of the U.S. – led “Operation Iraqi freedom” had sixteen of its citizens on board of the Israeli – attacked Mavi Marmara. In response, in a vote by consensus the Kuwaiti parliament in which the cabinet ministers are members recommended withdrawal from the Arab Peace Initiative. With Iran across the Gulf and the explosive situation across its northern borders with Iraq, the echo of General Petraeus’ warning reverberates louder here.

Thirdly, the Israeli attack has split the Turkish and U.S. NATO allies into opposite sides of the international ensuing divide. Ankara found itself in a head to head diplomatic clash not with Israel, but with the U.S. in the United Nations Security Council, the Geneva – based UN Human Rights Council and the emergency meeting of NATO, where Washington acted as Israel’s mouthpiece and attorney. Turkey is now for the first time experiencing the U.S. double standards and pro – Israel biased policy, which the Arabs have been victims for decades. It might be interesting to note here that both Turkey and Greece, two U.S. and NATO allies, have set aside their historical hostility to each other to publicly disagree with the U.S. in their defense of breaking the Israeli siege of Gaza. “The US response to Israel’s disproportionate use of violence against innocent civilians constitutes a test case for US credibility in the Middle East,” wrote Suat Kiniklioglu, the Turkish ruling party’s deputy chairman.

In the same Carnegie Endowment’s report, director of the Middle East Program Marina Ottaway expected potential adverse repercussions beyond the Middle East. “In addition to the predictable Arab reaction, … there has been a harsher than normal response from European countries. This could potentially reopen U.S. tensions with Europe that developed during the Iraq war and have slowly begun to heal under the Obama administration,” she wrote.

How could any sensible observer interpret this adverse fallout on U.S. foreign relations and on Arab and Turkish – U.S. relations in particular as only the result of bad luck or an unintentional Israeli tactical mistake? The only other interpretation to justify Israel’s resort to bloody force is that Israel could no more tolerate a regional united Turkish, Arab and U.S. peace front, supported by the world community.

By aborting an international peace mission sponsored by moderate Arab and regional states, Israel sends a clear message that it wants them out of the game and prefers instead to deal only with pro – violence players, which vindicates a popular Arab belief, established over decades of the conflict, that Israel understands only the language of force.

Israel knows very well that its belligerency has been all along the main source of regional anti – Americanism. The U.S. knows it too. Repercussions of the Israeli attack seem to hit at the heart of what President Obama in mid – April declared as a “vital national security interest of the United States,” i.e. solving the Arab – Israeli conflict. By escalating militarily and responding disproportionately, the extremist right – wing government of Israel is premeditatedly acting with open eyes to preempt the evolution of a united regional and international front in consensus on a two –state solution for the conflict; the best way to split the already burgeoning consensus is to fuel regional anti – Americanism as a tested ploy to disintegrate whatever Arab, Turkish and U.S. front might develop to pressure it into yielding to the dictates of peace.

U.S. traditional pro – Israel diplomacy has been all along playing in the hands of Israeli extremists, but this time against declared strategic U.S. interests. Nonetheless, Washington acts as if on intent to pursue a self – defeating policy; its biased foreign policy and double standards are antagonizing regional allies, but more importantly contributing to Israel’s fueling of regional anti – Americanism.

Iran had no role whatsoever in the peaceful mission of the Gaza free Flotilla. Spotlight was kept focused on major Turkish, Arab and European civilian peace activists, who came from Europe, United States, Australia, and Turkey; major Arab input came from Kuwait, Algeria, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen, all of them U.S. allies. Even Syria, which is accused of being an ally of Iran, has kept relatively a low profile in the whole episode and had no role in the mission either, although it spearheaded the opposition to the U.S. role in the aftermath during the emergency meeting in Cairo of the Arab foreign ministers. Israel could in no way authentically claim the flotilla mission had any Iran connection to justify its high seas blunder. Neither the organizers would allow any such role. Co-founder of the Free Gaza Movement’s 69-year-old U.S.-born engineer, Greta Berlin, was quoted by AP on June 4 as saying the group has shunned donation offers from Iran and said the group doesn’t accept donations from radical groups or states. Similarly, the de facto government of Hamas in Gaza has shunned a suggestion by the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards to provide “protection” for future similar flotillas.

* Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Bir Zeit, West Bank of the Israeli – occupied Palestinian territories.