Egyptian envoy responds to criticism over Gaza convoy

December 29, 2009, Tuesday/ 17:43:00/ SERVET YANATMA
The Egyptian ambassador in Ankara dismissed criticism yesterday that his country is blocking passage to Gaza through its territory for an international aid convoy, saying that the convoy is free to enter the coastal strip through a designated port.

“If their true aim is really to deliver humanitarian aid, then they should use the El Arish port, which is more feasible and nearer,” Ambassador Aladdin al-Hadidi told Today’s Zaman. The Egyptian diplomat said it makes a lot more sense to use El Arish Port on the Mediterranean coast from a logistical point of view and asserted that Egypt will not allow the Viva Palestina convoy to enter Gaza via the Nuweiba Port in the eastern part of Sinai Peninsula.

The Viva Palestina aid convoy departed from London earlier this month and traveled across Europe and the Middle East. However, the convoy and its cargo of aid was stopped in the Jordanian port town of Aqaba, having been denied entry into Egypt. Al-Hadidi said Nuweiba Port was not appropriate for the passage of such a large convoy as Viva Palestina. He said Egyptian authorities have contacted officials with the convoy four times, informing them about the date and the designated route to Gaza. He suggested that there were “political and propaganda reasons” behind the convoy’s insistence now on passage through Nuweiba Port despite earlier communication with Egyptian authorities.

“We are not against helping the Palestinians. On the contrary, we support humanitarian aid,” he told Today’s Zaman. The Egyptian envoy said protests in Turkey against Egypt stemmed from lack of communication and emphasized that there was no problem between the Turkish and Egyptian governments, saying his country’s position is well understood in Turkey. “Egypt is an independent country and expects its decisions to be respected,” he said.

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