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  •  I readily understand the humanitarian impulse of those participating in or supporting this flotilla, but I would like to set out my own view as to why we should be slow to endorse this Gaza flotilla.
  • To me, the crucial issue is: why do the Israelis feel obliged to put that blockade in place? They feel obliged to have a blockade because the Hamas regime in Gaza has used munitions and rockets smuggled into Gaza to launch attacks on Israeli civilians.
  • The flotilla is not really about bringing aid. The Israeli government is committed to assisting the bringing of aid to Gaza by land. Some of the ships, including the Irish one, are reported to be carrying little or no aid.
  • Here in Ireland we should recall that the political representatives of paramilitarism were not admitted into the talks process until there was a permanent ceasefire. We should be able to understand from experience that it is simply not realistic to expect Israel to lift all of their security measures on Gaza without likewise having a ceasefire guarantee.
  • The Palestinian regime also needs to be asked hard questions about the level of human rights they are prepared to secure for their own people. Equality for women and rights for gays and lesbians do not conspicuously feature in the Sharia-style regime that Hamas has unleashed on its civilian population. We must not be selective in our concern for rights.
  • We know what it means to build relationships with our former adversaries. Building such relationships is not assisted by grandstanding, confrontational and provocative gestures such as the proposed flotilla.

    The writer is Labour Party councillor for Stillorgan.

(Richard Humphreys - Irish Times)