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Libyan aid ship agrees to dock in Egypt instead of Gaza after talks.

"Amalthea", the Macedonian-flagged aid ship bringing supplies to Gaza under the auspices of the Moammar Gaddafi foundation has agreed to divert its course to the Egyptian port of al-Arish after the Israeli navy prevented it from reaching the Gaza Strip, reported Lebanese daily AN NAHAR, Thursday.

The foundation, which is headed by Saif al-Islam, son of Libyan leader Gaddafi, said it agreed to change the ship's course to al-Arish after it became clear that delivering the aid to the Palestinians was "not even a dream". The Gaddafi Foundation's executive director, Youssef Sawan said that, "It is on the basis of its commitment to the safety of all those on board the ship that the foundation has decided to dock at the port of al-Arish and unload the ship's contents there."

In a statement published on its website, the foundation made it clear that the decision came after the intervention of an unnamed European mediator, and said that "if our objective was to help the people of Gaza, this could be achieved. If, however, our goal was not that, and our goal was to see a confrontation with the Israelis, then the consequences, and the resulting victims, would be our responsibility to bear."

The statement said that the ship responded to a series of "impossible conditions", but that the foundation was surprised with Israel's rejection on one specific point-denying the entrance of building materials including cement and iron, which Israel said "could not continue".

Despite the ship's mission not being fulfilled, the Gaddafi Foundation's statement seemed upbeat: "With such positive feelings, with results ... reached through mediated negotiations, and with all the guarantees that will ensure the implementation of the agreement ... Amalthea's goal has been achieved without bloodshed, and the result is a gain for the Palestinian people."

Ahmad Abul Gheit, Egypt's foreign minister said that his country had agreed to accept the ship at al-Arish explaining that "immediately after its arrival its cargo will be unloaded and handed over to the Egyptian Red Crescent who will then deliver it to the Palestinians." Authorities said the ship will be unloaded on Thursday.

According to the Amalthea's captain, the ship was stopped in the middle of the Mediterranean for twelve hours overnight Tuesday night "due to an engine failure", but resumed moving Wednesday morning "in the direction of Gaza". The boat was reportedly flanked by eight Israeli warships. The ship was carrying a crew of twelve as well as eight (predominantly Libyan) activists and two thousand tons of aid, medicine, and food.
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Title Annotation:LIBYA-GAZA
Publication:The Daily Middle East Reporter (Beirut, Lebanon)
Date:Jul 15, 2010
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