The campaign to breach Israel's sea blockade of Gaza suffered a major setback when Greece announced its restrictions on Friday, and authorities arrested the captain of a boat carrying American activists that tried to leave Greece without permission.
However, organizers of the flotilla were trying to maintain momentum with planned protests in Athens in the face of increasing calls for them to scrap their campaign. On Saturday, the Middle East Quartet of Mideast mediators — the U.S., U.N., EU and Russia — urged governments to discourage Gaza-bound flotillas that could escalate tension in the region.
Haaretz reports how Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the past year-and-a-half has worked hard on increasing diplomatic ties with Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou.
Israeli diplomats can attest that the budding friendship between the two countries over the course of the past year-and-a-half has been nothing short of dramatic. Intelligence communication has increased, the IAF has conducted a number of joint exercises with Greece’s air force and Netanyahu has requested Papandreou’s assistance in passing on several messages to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Many of Netanyahu and Papandreou’s talks in the past few months have revolved around the severe financial crisis Greece is currently suffering. Netanyahu recently decided to come to the aid of his newfound friend in a meeting of foreign ministers and European leaders, imploring them to provide Greece with financial aid.
“Netanyahu has become Greece’s lobbyist to the European Union,” an Israeli diplomat said.
In recent weeks, as efforts to stop the impending pro-Palestinian flotilla to Gaza came to a head, Netanyahu reaped the benefits of his investment in Israel-Greece ties and his gamble on the European country paid off.
He was able to create a viable alternative to relations with Turkey in several regards, showing Erdogan that Israel will not hesitate to become close to its greatest enemy in the West.
And when the moment of truth came, Greece followed through and ordered all Gaza-bound departures be blocked from leaving its ports. Greece’s decision, along with the Turkish Humanitarian Relief Foundation's (IHH) announcement that it would not be sending the Mavi Marmara and the president of Cypress’s statement forbidding ships from sailing to Gaza sealed the fate of the flotilla almost entirely.
Semi-related is NYT's headline "Europe Agrees to Give Billions to Greece."
Of course Hama's is denouncing Greece but this action has shown what diplomacy and cultivating friendships can do for a country, something Obama could learn a little bit about.
An interesting tidbit from Elder of Ziyon as well:
Remember how the flotidiots accused Israel of sabotaging the Irish boat in the harbor in Turkey? This accusation even made it into the Huffington Post as a headline story. Well, it turns out that there was no sabotage, as Turkey's Hurriyet reported.
More at YNet.
In the meantime, over at Maannews.net I see two interesting top news items, one right after each other "Israel to allow 200 trucks carrying limited goods to enter Gaza Strip and "Israel: Gaza projectile lands in Eshkol regional council."