Gaza Flotilla Launched With Arab MK on Board

YERUSHALAYIM

The latest attempt to defy Israel’s security blockade of the Hamas-run Gaza Strip set sail on Thursday — with Arab Joint List MK Basel Ghattas, whose participation has been a contentious issue in the Knesset.

Five vessels are taking part in the flotilla, which is expected to approach the Gaza coast within three days, despite Israeli warnings that they will not be permitted to enter territorial waters.

Flotilla organizers claim their mission is a humanitarian one, and that they are carrying solar panels and medical supplies for Gaza residents. But Israeli officials maintain that such supplies can be brought in through supervised overland routes, and that it is a cover for the real purpose of the flotilla, which is anti-Israel propaganda.

“It is my right and moral obligation to tell the world, ‘Behold, look, in Gaza there is a closure and two million people are on the brink of explosion,’” Ghattas told the Hebrew-language Walla news site.

Among others, Yisrael Beitenu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman asserted that Ghattas’ participation in the flotilla is further evidence of disloyalty among Arab MKs.

“The whole purpose of the Joint Arab List is to hurt the state of Israel, while using Israeli democracy in an attempt to destroy it. Israeli society must stop these hypocritical games, and act to remove this bunch of terrorist supporters from within us.”

Meanwhile, it was disclosed that one of the NGOs involved in the flotilla — The Platform of French NGOs for Palestine — receives funding from the French government, Arutz Sheva reported on Thursday.

The Platform is an umbrella organization for more than 40 anti-Israel groups, and is active in the BDS campaign against Israel. The Platform demands an end to all agreements and relations between the European Union and Israel.

It is also a regular recipient of French taxpayers’ money, via the French Development Agency (Agence Française de Développement, or AFD), a public aid agency that works on behalf of the French government to carry out “sustainable development programs” around the world.

In March 2014, the AFD approved a three-year grant of 225,000 euros ($252,000) to the Platform. Between 2010-2011, the agency donated a total of €261,200 to the group.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry and the prime minister’s office were not available for comment on Thursday.

It comes as the Knesset is set to once again debate the so-called NGO law, which seeks to curb anti-Israel activities by foreign-funded NGOs.

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