Paris, July 5, 2011
France has already had several opportunities, like many other countries and the United Nations Secretary-General, to publicly discourage the crews of the Gaza-bound vessels [from taking part in the flotilla], because, precisely, the events of last year showed the risks of confrontation that are linked to these initiatives.
Foreign Ministry departments met the organizers of the “Un bateau français pour Gaza” campaign to convey this message to them personally.
Humanitarian aid for Gaza must be delivered by land. This is the most effective means today of helping those people in need. It’s in this context that the Greek authorities decided to detain the flotilla vessels.
Our call to adopt a responsible attitude in no way changes our position on the Gaza blockade, which must be lifted. Alain Juppé also expressly reiterated to the Israeli authorities during his visit at the beginning of June that it was crucial for them to assist the delivery of international aid. The development and reconstruction projects carried out by the United Nations must also be able to be done so without hindrance.
Finally, I want to tell you that France is present in the Gaza Strip since, in support of the civilian population, it receives 30% of our bilateral aid to Palestinians, and that we’re carrying out very important development projects./.