Jerusalem — The Israeli parliament has temporarily suspended an Israeli-Arab politician who participated in the Gaza-bound flotilla last year that was intercepted by Israel in a bungled assault that left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead.
Civil rights groups condemned the controversial sanction against Haneen Zoabi, an MP with the Balad Party. Her suspension came as a lone French yacht tried to run Israel’s blockade of Gaza as the sole representative of a much larger convoy that had hoped to sail weeks ago but has been grounded by the authorities in Greece.
The French-flagged Dignite – Al Karama, which sailed from Greece after naming Egypt as its destination, expects to reach Gaza’s territorial waters in an attempt to refocus international attention on Israel’s four-year blockade of the tiny Palestinian enclave. Activists on board the vessel, which is carrying 17 passengers, among them a French politician, said they were bringing a message of “peace and love and hope.”
The effort is likely to be more symbolic than effective as Israeli troops are primed to prevent any ship from entering the sea around Gaza. Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s hawkish prime minister, has repeatedly warned that the Jewish state will use force to repel any attempt to run the blockade.
“The decision to keep me away from discussions in the Knesset is a political decision and a reflection of the right-wing majority,” Zoabi told Agence France Presse.
(www.arabamericannews.com / 23.07.2011)