Israeli Pres. Peres Thanks Greece for Thwarting Gaza-Bound Flotilla

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Haaretz (Israel)

Israeli Pres. Peres Thanks Greece for Thwarting Gaza-Bound Flotilla

Israeli and Greek presidents discuss their countries' strengthening ties during meeting in Jerusalem.

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Israeli President Shimon Peres, right, and his Greek counterpart Karolos Papoulias attend a welcoming ceremony at the presidential compound in Jerusalem. Long-frosty relations between the two Mediterranean nations are reaching new heights of cooperation after Athens effectively prevented a flotilla of pro-Palestinian activists from reaching Gaza and breaching Israel's naval blockade of strip (AFP)

President Shimon Peres met with his Greek counterpart Dr. Karolos Papoulias in Jerusalem on Monday and thanked him for Greece's role in stopping the international flotilla to Gaza.

"I want to thank you for following the instructions of the United Nations secretary-general and stopping the Gaza flotilla," Peres told Papoulias, after Greek authorities had banned the departure of all ships from its ports to the Gaza Strip, which thwarted most activists' attempts to sail to Gaza.

Israeli officials had previously deemed the pro-Palestinian activists bound for Gaza as provocateurs and expressed concerns that they planned to attack Israeli soldiers trying to stop them from entering the Gaza Strip.

During their meeting in the Israeli capital, Peres thanked Papoulias for his part in delaying the flotilla. He said that Athens “handled things in a legal and strict manner.”

“I saw a sign on one of the ships calling for the freeing of Gaza,” Peres commented. ”It needs to be said that Gaza will be free once it disassociates itself from terrorism. Israel, on the other hand, always has its hand stretched out in peace to all our neighbors and looks forward to the day when Gaza is a thriving city free of the terror regime of Hamas.”

Peres and the Greek president also discussed their countries' strengthening ties in a number of political and business areas.

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