I have just written the letter copied below to the Israeli ambassador. I don't claim to know him well, but have met him three times in the last couple of years. If I receive a reply, I will also publish that here.
13 June 2010
His Excellency Ron Prosor
Ambassador of the State of Israel
2 Palace Green
The blockade of Gaza
Like most British citizens, I was horrified two weeks ago when I learned that Israeli commandos had stormed the Mavi Marmara, killing nine civilians and wounding many others.
The United Nations has called for “a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.” In Parliament our country’s Foreign Secretary has made clear “the need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into these events. Our goal is a process that ensures full accountability for the events that occurred and commands the confidence of the international community, including international participation.” In this letter I have resisted the temptation to condemn your country’s conduct pending the findings of such an enquiry. However, I would like to ask you when the enquiry is likely to take place, and if it will meet the requirements set out by the UN and the UK.
The flotilla was only necessary because of Israel’s restrictions on the movement of goods into Gaza. Israel justifies these restrictions by the need to stop rockets being fired from Gaza into Israel, a goal which is entirely legitimate. However, the restrictions imposed go far beyond that legitimate need.
On 27 February 2006 the Christian Science Monitor reported a statement from Dov Weisglass, an adviser to then Prime Minister Ehud Olmert:"The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger." Please let me know if Mr Weisglass has been inaccurately reported. If the report is accurate, it is clear that Israel has had a deliberate policy of restricting food supplies into Gaza, as reported by most aid agencies. Do you believe that the Palestinians have developed a way of transmuting surplus food into rockets? More generally, do you believe that all of the items that Israel currently refuses to allow into Gaza have a military implication?
In Parliament, our Foreign Secretary also stated that in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 1860 (2009), the restrictions on Gaza should be lifted except where required to prevent the trafficking of arms. What is your country’s response to this international call?
I believe that the only realistic way forward in the Middle East is a two state solution as proposed in the Arab League peace plan. However, I am dismayed that Israel’s conduct seems designed to make such a solution impossible. While this may be politically appealing in the short run, in the long run it damages not only the Palestinian’s interests but also Israel’s, as the absence of a proper peace risks continuing conflict.
In view of the wide interest in this issue, I will be publishing a copy of this letter on my website, and will also publish the text of any reply.