Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper
Mavi Marmara ready for sail
Country's top diplomat warned against Canadian involvement in a new aid flotilla that organizers say will leave in June for the blockaded Gaza Strip, calling the unauthorized efforts "provocative."
"I strongly urge those wishing to deliver humanitarian goods to the Gaza Strip to do so through established channels," Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird said on Sunday.
"Unauthorized efforts to deliver aid are provocative and, ultimately, unhelpful to the people of Gaza," he said.
On May 31, 2010, Israeli marines stormed the Mavi Marmara, the flagship of an international aid flotilla bound for Gaza, killing nine Turkish activists in international waters and drawing international condemnation.
Baird's warning comes amid reports that a group representing about 100 Canadian organizations says it plans to send a Canadian boat to the Gaza Strip as part of the second "Freedom Flotilla" - this time comprising some 15 ships.
"Canada recognizes Israel's legitimate security concerns and its right to protect itself and its residents from attacks by Hamas and other terrorist groups, including by preventing the smuggling of weapons," Baird said.
Israel has long claimed that attempts to breach the naval blockade are political rather than genuinely humanitarian.
It has also offered to transfer any bona fide aid shipments directly to Gaza, provided it can inspect the cargo to prevent arms smuggling to Hamas and other militant groups.
In a major Middle East policy address, US President Barack Obama on May 19 urged both Israelis and Palestinians to negotiate a two-state solution on the basis of Israel's borders before the 1967 six-day war, something that Israel has emphatically rejected.
Canadian media reports said Prime Minister Stephen Harper successfully objected to any mention of Israel's 1967 borders in the final declaration of the G8 summit, which ended Friday in Deauville, France.
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