Author: Heilman, Uriel
Date published: August 5, 2010
The decision by Israel to participate in the U.N. probe of the Turkish flotilla incident marks a stark departure from Jerusalem's practice of opposing the world body's investigations of Israeli actions.
A year-and-a-half ago, faced with a similar decision when the U.N. Human Rights Council decided to appoint a fact-finding mission to investigate Israel and Hamas' actions during the Gaza war, Israel boycotted the inquiry led by retired South African judge Richard Goldstone. For that, Israel would pay a heavy diplomatic price: The report was harshly critical of Israel and generated months of negative publicity for the Jewish state.
A year later, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is taking the opposite course with the U.N. review panel looking into the May 31 flotilla confrontation.
Nine Turks, including a dual Turkish- American citizen, were killed in the melee that ensued when Israeli commandos tried to board the Mavý Marmara, part of a flotilla of ships sailing for Gaza in a bid to break Israel's blockade of the strip.
The incident drew worldwide condemnation of Israel.
"Israel has nothing to hide," Netanyahu said in a statement Monday. "The opposite is true. It is in the national interest of the State of Israel to ensure that the factual truth of the overall flotilla events comes to light throughout the world, and this is exactly the principle that we are advancing."
The U.N. inquiry out of New York will be led by a former premier of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer, and will include the outgoing president of Colombia, Alvaro Uribe, as well as a Turkish and an Israeli representative who have yet to be named.
The panel is expected to begin its work on Aug. 10, and submit a progress report in midSeptember.
UN. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon hailed Israel's decision to participate as an "unprecedented development."
Israel had launched its own investigations of the incident.
An Israel Defense Force investigation found intelligence failures in the IDF's preparations for stopping the flotilla, but no fault with the soldiers' actions. A government committee probe is still ongoing.
Turkey, however, was not satisfied with that.
Concerned about the rupture between Turkey and Israel over the incident and its long-term implications for the future of the Middle East, President Barack Obama and his administration were keen on finding a way for a probe that would satisfy both Turkey's demands for an international inquiry and Israel's concerns about any bias against it.
The new probe was the result of negotiations with Israel and Turkey.
Ban said that he hoped the inquiry would have a positive impact on the "relationship between Turkey and Israel, as well as the overall situation in the Middle East."
Jewish Telegraphic Agency