Members of Congress ask Erdo?an to help stop Gaza-bound flotilla


In this Monday, May 31, 2010 file photo, image reviewed by the Israeli military and taken aboard an Israeli naval vessel, Israeli navy soldiers intercept one of several boats headed towards the Gaza Strip, in international waters in the Mediterranean Sea.
A group of members of the US Congress has submitted a letter to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an urging him to “help work out a mechanism with Israel to allow legitimate humanitarian assistance to go to Gaza without provoking a needless confrontation,” The Weekly Standard reported on Thursday.
In an explicitly pro-Israeli letter, the congressional members expressed serious concern over reports that the “so-called Free Gaza Movement” and the Humanitarian Aid Foundation (?HH) are planning to send another flotilla to Gaza in the coming weeks to provoke a confrontation with Israel.
“As members of the United States House of Representatives we ask you to help discourage these efforts and work with the Israeli government in a productive way as it continues to allow legitimate aid, but not weapons, to enter Gaza,” the letter said.
The members of Congress alleged that the government of Israel has demonstrated a commitment to ensuring the basic needs of those living in the Gaza Strip are being met and that over the last year the capacity of existing land crossings had been increased, citing as an example the capacity of the Kerem Shalom crossing increasing by 210 percent.

The letter recalled that more than 3,600 supply trucks had entered Gaza in the month of March alone, delivering tens of thousands of tons of goods, including food, clothing, medicine and fuel. It said over the past year, agricultural exports from the Gaza Strip have gradually increased and economic growth in Gaza reached 15 percent in 2010.

“These are all clear signs that Israeli policies are making a positive impact on the lives of the Palestinian people,” the Congress members underlined.

According to the letter, Israel, like any country in the world, must take whatever steps necessary to protect its citizens and that starts with preventing additional weapons from entering Gaza. It said if flotilla organizers carry out their confrontational plans, the Israelis will have little choice but to board the vessels and search for weapons. “We fear violence could erupt just as it did last year.”

The members of Congress called for Erdo?an’s active participation in finding a resolution that prevents violence and hoped that his government can help work out a mechanism with Israel to allow “legitimate” humanitarian assistance to go to Gaza without provoking a confrontation.

“We are confident that Israel, as it has in the past, will continue to allow such aid to flow subject to appropriate security screening. By finding a constructive solution as an alternative to another flotilla, you have a unique opportunity to potentially save lives and be a force for stability at a particularly volatile time,” the letter concluded.

According to the report, Representatives Steve Israel, Tom Cole, Howard L. Berman, Henry A. Waxman, Jason Chaffetz, Denny Rehberg, Gary L. Ackerman, Henry Cuellar, Shelley Berkley, Mike Quigley, Joseph Crowley, Mike Ross, Theodore E. Deutch, Gene Green, Steve Scalise, Renee L. Ellmers, Richard L. Hanna, Ted Poe, Sue Wilkins Myrick, Heath Shuler, Lynn Jenkins, Reid J. Ribble, Adam B. Schiff, Steven R. Rothman, Carolyn B. Maloney, Jerrold Nadler, Bill Pascrell, Jr., Shelley Moore Capito, Janice D. Schakowsky, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Christopher S. Murphy, Mike Kelly, Bill Johnson, Doug Lamborn, Jean Schmidt and Joe Barton signed the letter.

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