9 MAY 2011
[Paris, France] The international Steering Committee of Freedom Flotilla II just concluded its planning meeting in Paris, a few weeks before the scheduled departure of the flotilla to Gaza.
Freedom Flotilla II will leave during the third week of June, with ships departing from various European ports, including Marseilles. We’re very pleased to announce the recent addition of a Swiss-German boat to the flotilla. In July 2010 Germany’s Bundestag passed a resolution calling for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza. A number of our respective governments have said the same. The UN Human Rights Committee Fact Finding Mission into the 2010 flotilla attack found Israel’s blockade on Gaza to be unlawful. The International Committee of the Red Cross has said that Israel must end its illegal closure of Gaza. Yet Israel continues to disregard international law and ignore the will of the international community. Without any strong diplomatic action being taken to enforce international law and defend the human rights of the Palestinian people, the flotilla must sail and other international initiatives to end Israel’s impunity are called for.
We are encouraged by the reported decision of the new Egyptian government to open the Rafah crossing. But just as Egyptians stayed in Tahrir Square, accepting nothing less than the departure of the former regime, so too we must accept nothing less than a full end of the illegal blockade of Gaza and all forms of the Israeli occupation of Palestine.
In one week, Palestinians will mark 63 years since the Nakba and the beginning of the dispossession of the Palestinian people from their homes. Next month will mark 44 years since the onset of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. And July will mark 4 years since the near hermetic closure of Gaza. The question is no longer why we are sailing to break the blockade, but why is it taking the international community so long to act. We call on the community of states and people around the world to uphold international law in Palestine, and support the Freedom Flotilla.
Tomorrow, members of the Steering Committee will head to Strasbourg for meetings with European Parliament members to discuss the details of the flotilla and their active support. From now until we sail, members of the flotilla will be meeting their government officials, the UN and other international organizations to gain support for this global civil society action to end Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza.