David Macilwain (VIC) writes to FM Kevin Rudd asking for Australian government intervention in Israel’s threats to flotilla participants 27Jun11 June 28, 2011

Dear Mr Rudd,

As the second Flotilla of international human rights activists and civilian supporters of Palestine prepares to set sail to bring aid to Gaza, in defiance of Israel’s illegal blockade, I am writing to ask for your immediate intervention.

Three Australian citizens, Sylvia Hale, Vivienne Porzsolt, and Michael Coleman will be travelling with the flotilla, and the Australian government has a responsibility to ensure their safety in international waters, as well as to take action against foreign governments that threaten their safety.
As reported in Haaretz today, Ireland’s foreign minister has appealed to the Israeli government to avoid any use of military force in attempting to uphold the naval blockade of Gaza:-


He also reiterated Ireland’s position that the blockade of Gaza was ‘unjust and counterproductive’, and that last year’s violent assault on the Flotilla was ‘completely unacceptable and unjustified’. I would like to think that Australia  would concur with these sentiments, rejecting both Israel’s illegal blockade and its act of piracy last year. I would remind you that this attack in which nine Turkish civilians were executed and many more injured, was found by the UN to have been illegal and a serious and criminal act, one for which Israel has not apologised to Turkey and which it alone considers to have been both ‘legal’ and justified.

Israel has declared that it will not allow the second Flotilla to reach the port of Gaza, despite it having no jurisdiction over the water beside the coast. Israel is no longer the occupying force in Gaza and its illegal blockade – the effective imprisonment and strangulation of 1.5 million Palestinians – is something that all governments should be working to prevent, instead of making mealy mouthed statements about ‘Israel’s right to self defence’.
Israel’s right to self defence extends only to the limits of the internationally accepted borders of the Israeli state – that is the 12 mile limit beyond Israel’s sea coast, ending on the borders of Gaza and Lebanon, and the line of the 1949 truce, that is the ’67 border. Attacks on civilians beyond these borders, as in the Flotilla attack last year, and more recently that on Palestinian protestors in the occupied Golan Heights, are patently criminal under international law.

I am very alarmed to discover that DFAT has declared that it will not offer consular assistance to Australians detained by Israel in the event of their seizure from the Flotilla. Israel’s actions last year, in which hundreds of people were taken from the illegally seized Mavi Marmara, interrogated and held incommunicado in Israeli detention, were a gross violation of their human rights, reflecting the ongoing violation of the rights of Palestinians in the illegally Occupied West Bank.

It is simply not acceptable that we continue to have normal diplomatic relations with the State of Israel until such time as it respects international law and ceases using violent military force to develop its position as a privileged and segregated Jewish state. Australians who bravely and peacefully act in solidarity with the oppressed people of Palestine, because their government has failed to keep to its obligations under international law, deserve and require our full support.

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