Gaza City: The
Hamas government in the Gaza Strip on Sunday called on Greece to
allow a flotilla of aid ships to set sail for the
Israeli-blockaded Palestinian territory.
"We regret the position of Greece, which has responded
to international pressure to stop the Freedom Flotilla from
sailing," Hamas foreign minister Mohamed Awad told a news
conference at Gaza`s port.
"We call on them to reconsider their ban on the
flotilla setting sail and to allow them to leave," he added.
Several ships participating in the so-called Freedom
Flotilla have been forced to remain docked in Greece after
local authorities warned that they did not have permission to
set sail for Gaza.
Also today, chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat
condemned the Middle East diplomatic Quartet after it sought
to discourage new flotillas from sailing to Gaza.
"The blockade on Gaza should be immediately lifted,
not eased. That is the only appropriate and acceptable
message," Erakat said in a statement.
"We invite (the Quartet) to focus on resolving the
root cause of the conflict, which is the occupation, rather
than seeking ways to manage its destructive symptoms," Erakat
Yesterday the Quartet, with representatives from the
United States, Russia, the European Union and the United
Nations, said the flotillas were not helpful.
"The Quartet recognises that Israel has legitimate
security concerns that must continue to be safeguarded," it
said in a statement, adding that "enabling movement and access
for Palestinian people and goods are critical."
The ships, chartered by pro-Palestinian activists, are
seeking to break the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip and
are loaded with items ranging from aid to letters from
But the flotilla has been plagued by setbacks,
including Greece`s refusal to let several ships head out to
sea and the discovery that at least two vessels had been