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Israel says it foiled Libyan bid to break Gaza blockade

world Updated: Jul 10, 2010 15:24 IST

AFP
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Intense diplomatic efforts have likely prevented a Libyan aid ship from trying to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip, the foreign ministry said on Saturday.

"Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman spoke several times in recent days with the foreign ministers of Greece and Moldova and reached understandings with them about dealing with the Libyan ship," a ministry statement said.

"The foreign ministry believes that due to these talks, the ship will not reach Gaza," the statement added.

A charity headed by Seif al-Islam Kadhafi, the son of Libyan leader Moamar Kadhafi who is widely seen as heir apparent, said yesterday it was sending an aid boat from Greece to Gaza.

Agents for the Moldova-flagged cargo ship Amalthea said the boat was expected to set sail from Lavrio, some 60 kilometres southeast of Athens.

The 92-metre freighter has a 12-man crew and will carry up to nine passengers, a representative of Piraeus-based agents Alpha Shipping said yesterday.

But Israeli officials said that Moldovan authorities had made contact with the captain of the ship who agreed to divert the cargo to the Egyptian port of El-Arish. They did not elaborate.

Meanwhile Israeli media today reported that Israel had asked the United Nations to stop the Libyan ship.

Israel's UN ambassador Gabriela Shalev sent a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon asking that the international community intervene to prevent the ship approaching Gaza, Haaretz newspaper reported on its website.