The U.S. State Department warned its citizens against going to the Gaza Strip, and against what it called âinfiltratingâ into Gaza by participating in solidarity ships or by any other means. The statement was welcomed by Israel. The statement did not criticise Israelâs attack on the Freedom Flotilla in May nor the deaths, arrests, injuries, and deportations of activists, including Americans, but requested that those who supported solidarity ships to discourage what it called âfurther attempts to break the siege on Gaza.â
Israel welcomed the statement which came after a similar statement was issued by the U.K. last week, and hinted that those who participate in solidarity ships should not expect to come home and be supported by their governments.
The U.S. also recommended that Americans should not travel to Gaza nor Israeli settlements adjacent to the Gaza Strip. It also said that American citizens must also be cautious in Jerusalem.
Yet, the State Department did not advise against traveling to the West Bank, but said that closures imposed by Israel could make it difficult to travel there.
The statement came as Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak, landed in Washington for talks with U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
Barak will be holding talks on the Gaza siege, the attack against the Freedom Flotilla, Iran, and the indirect American-supervised talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Israel is pushing for strict sanctions on Iran while Barak stated that sanctions have a time limit and other actions should be taken if sanctions alone became insufficient.
The Israeli Defense Minister is expected to participate in the Socialist International conference, which brings together several groups that consider themselves social democratic, socialist, and labor parties.
He will also be holding talks with officials of the Obama administration, including Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton.