Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair is urging charities to stop launching aid flotillas to the blockaded Gaza Strip, and use Israeli-run crossings instead.
“If we implement this policy so that the things that people are trying to bring in by flotilla you can bring in through the legitimate existing crossings, do it that way,” Blair told The Jerusalem Post in an interview on Monday.
“That is the more sensible way to do that,” he added.
The remarks come amid reports of more ships seeking to sail from Lebanon to break Israel’s naval blockade in the next few days despite Tel Aviv’s Sunday announcement that it was easing the land blockade on the Gaza Strip, and that it would allow all goods except for arms and weapons-related material into the territory.
The move seemed to be aimed at evading mounting international pressure triggered by Israel’s deadly attack on a Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla on May 31, where at least nine activists onboard the aid fleet were killed.
Blair said he had been discussing the easing of those restrictions with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu long before the fatal onslaught on the Flotilla.
The envoy for the Quartet for Middle East Peace, however, sympathized with Israel over its alleged security concerns which keep the blockade in place.
“Where I divide from some others in the international community is that I think that Israel has got a genuine security concern that it is entitled to meet,” he said.
“For me, the fact that Israel says, ‘Look, we’re not going to allow things into the [Gaza] seaport, but you can bring them to Ashdod, and we can check them, and then they can come on to Gaza,’ I think that is a reasonable position.”