Labour party MPs who have spent the last months bragging in public how they will observe and receive the Gaza flotilla from Gaza itself, are now crying bitterly that Israeli authorities might not give them a visa to enter the strip from Israel.
The three stooges Anette Trettebergstuen, Truls Wicholm andMarianne Martinsen arrived in Israel last Monday and planned to travel to Gaza to meet representatives of Norwegian Folk Aid and the UN, in order to highlight the humanitarian crisis there.
Ignoring the fact that the UN itself, the international Red Cross have declared that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza, Trettebergstuen insists that
Israel tries to create an impression that there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Therefore, it is noteworthy that they deny foreign parliamentarians access to check the conditions for themselves.
Lets check the premises for her claims. New York times journalist Ethan Bronner wrote on the current situation in Gaza, highlighting economic data that show a sustained growth in luxury imports such as 4 wheel drive vehicles.
True, he also rightly highlights that there is poverty on the strip, and that even if luxury imports soar, not every Gazan has access to said products. But humanitarian crisis? According to Bronners article
There is near universal literacy and relatively low infant mortality, and health conditions remain better than across much of the developing world.
“We have 100 percent vaccination; no polio, measles, diphtheria or AIDS,” said Mahmoud Daher, a World Health Organization official here. “We’ve never had a cholera outbreak.”
Interestingly, the sustained crisis in delivery of medical supplies for elective surgery, stems from the Fatah – Hamas rivalry, with Fatah withholding delivery of such supplies from the West Bank.
But none of this appears to be of any importance for Trettebergstuen and her friends, who are now stuck at the American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem.
What upsets them the most is that their trip – carefully prepared by the Norwegian Foreign Ministry, complete with Norwegian ambassador to Israel as well as the ministry itself pressing Israeli authorities to allow the MPs visas to Gaza has been met with a prompt NO from Israel.
Unbelievable, moans Trettebergstuen, as she enjoys police protection from the Norwegian police authorities (note to tax payers: do we know how much money this is going to cost us? ).
The real shock here is that Norwegian diplomacy no longer has a relevant role to play in Israel. A mere 2 years ago, Israel would have been very happy to accommodate [hypo]critical parliamentarians who made made a political career out of criticizing [de-legitimizing?] Israel.
Now, after one let down after another from a severely biased and unrepresentative Norwegian government, we are supposed to be surprised that Israel no longer finds Norway a useful or even trustworthy “friend”? How many times is a friend supposed to bend over backwards and only get spurned in return?
I suspect Støre’s refusal to recant from his unjustified condemnation of Israel following the border incidents on June 5, when apparently a number of Syrian demonstrators were killed as they tried to cross the border with Israel, may not have been the best starting point for the Norwegian delegation.
Investigations into the incident has shown that it is unclear how many people died, and indeed if their untimely deaths were caused by Israeli troops or down to the fact that the demonstrators refused to heed cease fire calls to allow Red Cross first aid workers to treat wounded. The UN is investigating the incident.
Last time the UN investigated an incident, notably last years Flotilla incident, the findings confirmed Israel’s version, and in a bid to stem the political embarrassment this investigation could cause Turkey, Turkish diplomats are currently wooing Israel to ask her to accept a watered down version of the UN report in return for patching up the diplomatic spat between the two countries. Leaked tidbits of the report claim that
the committee determined that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is in keeping with international law, and therefore its actions to stop the flotilla were also legal.
According to a senior government official in Jerusalem, the report criticizes the Turkish government and highlights the relationship between it and IHH, the group that organized the flotilla.
So the whole Gaza flotilla past and present remains a source of deep embarrassment for Norway. Not only have we lost diplomatic clout and international recognition in a region we consider of fundamental importance to Norway, but all this has been sacrificed so that a lousy 5 Norwegians can get on a flotilla with no more than 350 participants (many of them apparently TV crews from CNN and other networks?) from the rest of the world, and get a mention in the newspaper.
Well done, Norway!