Flotilla: VP Biden justifies Israel (but gets his facts wrong), UK Prime Minister condemns raid

Posted: June 2nd, 2010 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us | Tags: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

US Vice President Joe Biden supported today (Wednesday) Israel’s claim that it acted within its rights when it attacked the Gaza-bound flotilla. In an interview with Bloomberg’s Charlie Rose, Bidern said that “You can argue whether Israel should have dropped people onto that ship or not, but the truth of the matter is, Israel has a right to know — they’re at war with Hamas — has a right to know whether or not arms are being smuggled in.”

This is from the transcript published in Politico:

…And so now the question is what do we do? Well, we had made it clear, the President of the United States has spoken three times, yesterday with Bibi, or the day before yesterday, he’s spoken once yesterday with a guy that I have spent a fair amount of time with, with Prime Minister Erdogan in Turkey; the Turks, we passed a resolution in the U.N. saying we need a transparent and open investigation of what happened. It looks like things are –

Charlie Rose: International investigation –

Joe Biden: Well, an investigation run by the Israelis, but we’re open to international participation, just like the investigation run on the sunken sub in — off the coast of Korea. That was run by South Korea, but the international community joined in that investigation. And so that is very possible here as well. I might add by the way for all those who say the Israelis, you know, you know, you can’t trust them, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled today that every one of the people on those ships had to be released immediately, immediately.

Even though the VP repeated “immediately” twice, he actually got it wrong. Supreme Court didn’t rule on the issue, and the government even argued before the court it had the right to hold the passengers, only to release them a short while after under fierce Turkish pressure.

Meanwhile, the UK’s new Prime Minister, David Cameron, has a very different view, calling the raid “totally unacceptable” and adding that:

“Friends of Israel – and I count myself a friend of Israel – should be saying to the Israelis that the blockade actually strengthens Hamas’s grip on the economy and on Gaza, and it’s in their own interests to lift it and allow these vital supplies to get through.”


Check out my op-ed on the flotilla affair, from the Israeli point of view, in the Jewish Daily Forward:

…Amid feelings of sorrow and anger, Israelis should be asking one simple question: What were the soldiers doing aboard an unarmed private vessel, carrying hundreds of civilians — hostile and violent as they may have been — dozens of miles from Israel’s territorial waters?

Full text here.

One Comment on “Flotilla: VP Biden justifies Israel (but gets his facts wrong), UK Prime Minister condemns raid”

  1. 1 Noam said at 10:03 am on June 3rd, 2010:

    Good job on the forward op-ed. One comment. And take this at face value coming from an international lawyer…

    I actually don’t think the international v. territorial water distinction is that important. It shows how brazen we were, but not much more. What I mean is that this action would have been just as stupid and he people just as dead if it had taken place so and so many miles from Israeli (or Gazan shores).

    You know, int’l waters is kind of an outdated idea any – the distance was originally determined by the distance at which cannons could fire from land – distances which were continuously increased as cannons got deadlier and could shoot further. Now that we have cruise missiles the whole concept is a little silly. Now-a-days, territorial waters is mostly used by nations to argue over who has the rights to off-shore drilling proceeds – and there too, continental shelves have supplanted territorial waters.

    So much for a quick history of territorial waters – but my point is that we have much stronger claims and should avoid the government spin and question whether it was legal to blockade outside territorial waters or not.

    So I guess what I am saying here as a lawyer is that the legal arguments are not super important in this case.