Canada Welcomes Israel's Decision to Ease Gaza Blockade

Published: June 22nd 2010
in News » Local

Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon

The easing of the Gaza siege as part of an Israeli cabinet decision with the participation of United States envoy and Quartet Representative Tony Blair made last week has accumulated mixed reviews.


Canadian politicians, including Minister of Foreign Affairs Lawrence Cannon, have welcomed Israel’s decision while being sensitive to Israel’s concern for its security and recognizing Israel’s right to defend itself against the attacks of Hamas.


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday, while addressing the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, that he believes the cabinet’s decision to ease the blockade has given Israel international legitimacy among its “friends” and while it may not prevent future flotillas, it will destroy the basis of propaganda against Israel.


This propaganda includes what Netanyahu describes to be the campaign of Hamas. Netanyahu addressed the Knesset, stating that "the cabinet decision is the best one for Israel, because it eliminates Hamas' main propaganda claim and allows us and our international allies to face our real concerns in the realm of security."


Canada is one of the “friends” that has recognized Israel’s legitimacy in keeping itself secure against Hamas and Iranian groups while allowing humanitarian aid into Gaza. This move made earlier last week has made it possible for the transfer of previously restricted goods to enter Gaza.


Minister Cannon made the following statement, commenting on the decision:


“Canada welcomes the decision of the Government of Israel to ease restrictions on transfers of supplies into Gaza. This should increase the amount of humanitarian aid reaching the affected population of Gaza.”


Netanyahu, in his statement to the Knesset, addressed the nation’s security concerns with regards to terrorist groups established by Iran in the north as well as in the south. He said “with Hezbollah from the North and Hamas from the south,” Israel would continue to defend itself and prevent these groups from arming themselves.


 According to Ynet News, Netanyahu also claimed that he requested an investigation into easing the blockade back in mid-2009. He further addressed the recent Lebanese flotilla which he has said Hezbollah was responsible for it. He said


“We must understand that this is an effort by Iran and Hezbollah to break the naval and security blockade of Hamas,” he said. 


In Canada’s statement, the issue of security is recognized and the move to ease the blockade is called an indication of coordination and cooperation. The statement also said:


“Canada recognizes Israel’s legitimate security concern and its right to protect itself and its residents from Hamas and other terrorist attacks. Canada continues to call for the immediate return of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit to his family in Israel.”


Gilad Shalit is an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian militants in late June of 2006. He remains in captivity. Following his capture, Hamas demanded the release of all female Palestinian prisoners and all prisoners under the age of 18 in exchange for information on Shalit. In 2009, the release of 20 Palestinian prisoners resulted in the release of a videotape of Shalit from Hamas. Since then, he has not been seen or heard from.


Now, Shalit’s family has been campaigning for the release of their son and have condemned Israel’s move to ease the blockade on Tuesday. Noam Shalit, Gilad’s father, has described his reaction to the easing of the blockade as a “terrible feeling to learn that the prime minister gives in to international pressure without taking our son into account.”


In the next few days, Shalit’s family plans on demonstrating their disappointment with the Israeli government in a rally in Rome on Thursday, according to Haaretz.

Related articles: (Quartet Representative, Tony Blair, Lawrence Cannon, Iran, Ahmadinejad)

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