AlterPolitics New Post

Reporters’ Questions On Gaza-Bound Flotilla Stump US State Dept Spokesperson

by on Saturday, June 25, 2011 at 4:38 pm EDT in Middle East, World

Friday’s daily press briefing at the US State Department (see video below) pretty much exemplifies the Obama Administration’s inability to articulate a logical justification for their support of Israel’s illegal Gaza blockade, or for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent hat-tip to Israeli threats against thirty-six US citizens who plan to set sail on a Gaza-bound flotilla carrying $370k worth of humanitarian aid.

Clinton was asked about the flotilla’s American passengers at a news conference this week in the Philippines, to which she replied:

“We think that it’s not helpful for there to be flotillas that try to provoke action by entering into Israeli waters and creating a situation in which the Israelis have the right to defend themselves.”

As Clinton surely knows, the flotilla intends to sail only within international waters (not Israeli waters), thereby making any Israeli action against them a violation of International law — an act of piracy. She also knows full well that the passengers aboard the flotilla are humanitarian activists (including an 86-year-old Holocaust survivor). So to put forward the notion that their presence in international waters would necessitate Israel’s right to “defend itself” is downright deceitful and, frankly, an act of betrayal against her own countrymen/women.

Just three days ago, the State Department revised its 10-month old travel advisory to Israel, the W. Bank, and Gaza:

U.S. citizens are advised against traveling to Gaza by any means, including via sea. Previous attempts to enter Gaza by sea have been stopped by Israeli naval vessels and resulted in the injury, death, arrest, and deportation of U.S. citizens. U.S. citizens participating in any effort to reach Gaza by sea should understand that they may face arrest, prosecution, and deportation by the Government of Israel. …  On May 31, 2010, nine people were killed, including one U.S. citizen, in such an attempt. The U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv and the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are not able to provide consular assistance in Gaza or on the high seas or coastal waters.

You would think by this travel advisory that the State Dept. was describing a country hostile to the United States of America — one with whom the US has no leverage to ensure its compliance with international law, as it impacts US citizens abroad. What you wouldn’t guess is that the State Department is warning American citizens that they might be harmed or even murdered by its ‘greatest’ ally, who will incidentally be receiving over $30 billion in US military aid over the next decade.

Should Israel injure, murder or arrest any American citizen — as the State Dept. advisory warns it might — for exercising his/her lawful right to sail upon international waters, or for attempting to deliver humanitarian aid to a people being choked to death by Israel’s unlawful blockade, Israel would clearly be in violation of international law. And yet, the Obama Administration refuses to acknowledged this fact. On the contrary, the Administration appears to be preempting any possible Israeli attacks against US citizens by casting THEM as the “lawbreakers” who have somehow “asked for it”.

So it was thrilling to watch yesterday’s State Dept. briefing, as reporters boldly took Spokesperson Victoria Nuland to task on this issue. They bombarded her with questions ranging from: Clinton’s recent statements, to the Obama Administration’s obligation to protect US citizens, to international law as it applies to both the Gaza blockade and to the flotilla’s right to sail in international waters.

Unable to defend the Administration’s recent statements (including ones made in her own name), Nuland sidesteps dozens of straight-forward questions and claims to be ignorant of international law.

WATCH (Note: Gaza Flotilla discussion begins at 1:35 and ends at 14:35):

The full transcript of the press briefing can be found HERE.