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Updated: June 2, 2010 18:18 IST

Abbas accuses Israel of state terrorism over flotilla attack

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Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cites verses form the Quran, during a meeting with the PLO executive committee and the Fatah central committee convened following Israel's interception of Gaza-bound ships, in Ramallah, on Monday. Photo: AP.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas cites verses form the Quran, during a meeting with the PLO executive committee and the Fatah central committee convened following Israel's interception of Gaza-bound ships, in Ramallah, on Monday. Photo: AP.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas accused Israel on Wednesday of ?state terrorism? for attacking a six?ship flotilla on Monday carrying aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.

?Our people were subjected to state terrorism? when the Israeli forces attacked the so?called ?Freedom Flotilla? in high seas, he told the opening session of the second Palestine Investment Conference in the West Bank town of Bethlehem.

Israeli naval commandos stormed the flotilla before dawn on Monday, after the vessels had refused orders to change course and sail to the Israeli port of Ashdod, instead of the Gaza Strip.

At least nine of the pro?Palestinian activists on board one of the ships were killed in the assault, which, according to footage released by the Israeli military, showed the activists attacking the commandos as they boarded the ships.

The incident provoked wide international condemnation and strained Turkish?Israeli relations.

?The flotilla came from the West to break the siege on Gaza,? Mr. Abbas said. ?The freedom convoy here has come to break the economic blockade on the Palestinian people,? he added in reference to the presence of large number of Arab and foreign investors at the Bethlehem investment conference.

This is not the first time where Arab and Islamic blood mixes with Palestinian blood in the history of this conflict,? said Mr. Abbas.

?The Freedom Flotilla is not the first serious attempt to support the Palestinian people and break the siege and it will not be the last,? he said.

The Palestinian leader called for an international investigation headed by the United Nations Security Council into the Israeli attack on the ships, telling the Arab world that ?there should be a united Arab stand to end the siege of Gaza.? He also called for international protection of the Palestinian people wondering ?how long will this Israeli occupation continue?? ?We are waiting for world justice,? he said. ?We waited for a long time but we will not despair.? Mr. Abbas will meet later on Wednesday with special US envoy George Mitchell, who is heading a ranking US delegation to the investment conference.

Sources said Mr. Abbas is expected to give Mr. Mitchell answers the US envoy asked him in his second round in the indirect Israeli?Palestinian peace talks which got underway last month.

Mr. Abbas said he would also travel to Washington on June 9 for a meeting with US President Barack Obama.

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