Palestinian-Israeli MP will take part in Gaza peace flotilla
Basel Ghattas, a Palestinian-Israeli MP in the Joint Arab List, has announced that he will take part in a flotilla to Gaza to protest at Tel Aviv's siege of the coastal strip.
Ghattas will join other parliamentarians and public figures from around the world onboard the flotilla later this month.
Not suprisingly, the decision has been criticised by other Knesset members, including immigration minister, Zeev Elkin from the right-wing Likud part.
"It is the gravest thing possible that an Israeli MP would join the flotilla whose aim is to help the Hamas terror organisation," he said. "Israeli law does not allow anyone to serve in parliament who supports a terror organisation."
Hamas, the ruling authority in Gaza, is treated as a terrorist organisation by Israel. Since Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007, the territory has been subjected to a land, air and sea blockade by Israel and Egypt.
Israel claims the siege is neceassary to prevent missile attacks on its territory from militants in Hamas.
Palestinian activists have repeatedly tried to break the siege of Gaza by the Israeli navy through peace flotillas.
In May 2010, an attempt by Israel to intercept one ship resulted in the killing of ten Turkish activists on board the ship.
Events were held across the Arab world earlier in June, to mark the five-year anniversary of the killings.
Hanin Zuabi, a Palestinian-Israeli MP who was on the ship that was raided by Israeli commandos the time, was roundly denounced by the political establishment as a "traitor". Now Ghattas faces a similar outcry.
Deputy foreign minster Tzipi Hotovely said that joining the attempt to run the blockade was evidence Ghattas was "working with the enemy".
She said the foreign ministry had been working around the clock to prevent the flotilla from approaching Gaza.
One of the boats involved in the bid to reach Gaza is a Swedish trawler called "Marianne of Gothenburg" which set sail from Sicily on Friday evening.
It is expected to meet up with several other vessels in the coming days to form what is being referred to as the Freedom Flotilla III, organisers say.
Activists hope that Freedom Flotilla II will reach Gaza before the end of the month.