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Flotilla raid in foreign media

Global media spares no criticism of Israel over deadly takeover of Gaza-bound sail, say incident complicates ties with US, distracts world from push for Iran sanctions, disrupts peace efforts

Jonathan Weber
Published: 06.01.10, 12:31 / Israel News

A disproportionate response that complicates things for Israeli, particularly with regards to the renewal of the peace process – This is the general opinion circulating in global media Tuesday of the Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla that left nine activists dead.

 

Criticism was also leveled at the timing of the incident, Israel's PR, and concerns that this may push Turkey closer to the Islamic world.

 

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A Washington Post analysis of the incident said, "The timing of the incident is remarkably bad for Israel" and it "will complicate the Obama administration's efforts to improve its tense relations with Jerusalem and will probably distract from the push to sanction Iran over its nuclear program."

Raid
Soldier: Activists came for war / Amnon Meranda
(Video) Video footage shows brutal attack on troops on board Gaza-bound vessel; soldier says passengers fired at forces, beat them severely using metal bats, knives. ‘We landed barehanded, and they lynched us,’ he says
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The New York Times agreed that the flotilla incident hurts efforts to renew peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. According to the paper: "While the administration’s public response was restrained, American officials expressed dismay in private over not only the flotilla raid, with its attendant deepening of Israel’s isolation around the world, but also over the timing of the crisis, which comes just as long-delayed American-mediated indirect talks between Israelis and Palestinians were getting under way."

 

The report goes on to say, "If Obama wanted to move ahead with the peace talks, preceded by the so-called proximity or indirect talks, the flotilla raid demonstrated that he may have to tackle the thornier issue of the Gaza blockade."

 

Bad timing, worse PR

Meanwhile, in the United Kingdom, Robert Fisk, an analyst for The Independent, criticized world leaders for their "gutless" responses to the Israel raid, and says, "Western leaders are too cowardly to save lives."

 

He dedicates a paragraph to British leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg, and asks, "Where were our politicians yesterday? Well, we had the ridiculous Ban Ki-moon, the White House's pathetic statement, and dear Mr. Blair's expression of 'deep regret and shock at the tragic loss of life'. Where was Mr. Cameron? Where was Mr. Clegg?"


Demonstrators in Malaysia (Photo: Reuters)

 

He demanded his government issue a harsh condemnation of the Israelis, who he said "grew used to killing Arabs. Now they kill Turks. Or Europeans"

 

The London Times showed a more moderate position, and its editorial read, " Israel has a right to protect itself from its enemies. It has a right to stop the smuggling of arms to Gaza."

 

But the paper's support of Israel ends there, and the article says the "violent outcome", which "was all too predictable" could have been avoided.

 

The report asks: "Was it sensible to lower commandos from helicopters, exposing them to the danger of attack as they boarded the ships? Was it politically astute to target Turkish nationals, exacerbating Israel’s deteriorating relationship with the one Muslim neighbor with which it has formerly enjoyed close political and military relations? Was it good public relations to be seen trying to turn back ships carrying crayons for schools, medicines for hospitals and cement to rebuild bomb-damaged towns? "

 

The British Guardian, which usually holds a clear anti-Israeli position, described the occurrences on the sail as "the murder of peace activists – Israel's message to the world".

 

The paper's Ahdaf Soueif writes, " It does not matter what Mark Regev or any other Israel spokesperson says. It does not matter what spin the Israeli government tries to put on this; the only link between Israeli words and Israeli deeds is this: Israel uses words as a decoy and an obfuscation and a cover for its deeds.

 

"It has done so for 62 years. These internationals, dead now, murdered, have ensured that anyone who does not see this is willfully blind."


Foreign reports fail to mention knives found on ship (Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit)

  

Meanwhile, Adrian Bloomfield, Mideast correspondent for the more conservative Daily Telegraph wrote in an analysis titled: "Israel's bad timing", that Jerusalem had bad timing three months ago as well, when it decided to announce the construction of new housing units in east Jerusalem during a visit by US Vice President Joe Biden.

 

According to the analyst, "For Israel, the diplomatic consequences (of the raid on the flotilla) could be dire. The Arab world has reacted with predictable fury but much more worryingly, Israel has, in Turkey, alienated its closest Muslim friend. Relations with Ankara were already strained; it is difficult to see how they could possibly revive after this."

 

The report said Israel should be more concerned about the future of the peace process, and said, "Palestinian leadership has only just been cajoled into indirect talks with Israel. Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, will now come under domestic pressure to break them off again."

 

German news site Der Spiegel also criticized Israel's policy and said the country "showed just how disproportionately it reacts to provocation - consequences be damned. And the consequences go beyond global condemnation." The article goes on to say, "In times of crisis, Israel seems to search for opportunities to turn the world against it."

 

'We've forgotten rules of the game'

Meanwhile, a blogger for French paper Le Figaro wrote, "We have forgotten the unwritten rules of the Israel-Palestinian game, according to which, every time there is a slither of hope, something dramatic happens that destroys it. This was the case in 1995 with the murder of Rabin, which led to years of Hamas terror attacks, and today, it is Israel's deadly attack on the flotilla that will lead to the failure of the indirect talks that the two parties agreed to renew.

 

"Clearly, no one had any illusions about the results of the proximity talks, but at least the 'diplomatic illusion' was preserved. Now, the smokescreen has been lowered, and it is hard to see how the Palestinians will resume negotiations with Israel in the near future. Does this mean that Obama will impose a peace plan?"

 

The report added that the raid would have additional consequences and would cause Hamas to gain strength at the expense of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, and would push Turkey closer to the Islamic world."

 

Yitzhak Benhorin in Washington contributed to this report

 

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