Lebanese Gov't. Mulls Stopping Gaza Flotillas

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JERUSALEM, Israel - The Lebanese government has withdrawn its support for two Gaza-bound flotillas, according to the Arabic language Lebanese paper al-Liwaa, Israel Radio reported on Thursday.

One ship would be carrying only female passengers and the second, organized by the Free Palestine Movement, would have European parliamentarians and journalists on board.

The report said the government is concerned the flotillas could escalate tensions in southern Lebanon. The article also cited sources who claimed that Iran may cancel the Red Crescent ship it planned to dispatch on Sunday.

While Hezbollah spiritual leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah allegedly endorsed the flotillas, Lebanese Prime Minister Said Hariri and unnamed members of Hezbollah are now working to prevent the ships from embarking on their blockade-busting missions, according to al-Liwaa.

The article further stated that Nasrallah canceled a trip to Turkey at the behest of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is concerned that the meeting could adversely affect Turkish-U.S. relations.

In a letter to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon written late last week, Israeli Ambassador Gabriela Shalev warned that any attempt to breech the Gaza naval blockade could escalate tensions and impact regional peace.

“Israel reserves its right under international law to use all necessary means to prevent these ships from violating the existing naval blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip,” Shalev wrote.

The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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