Eyeing world opinion, Israel agrees to cooperate on UN Gaza flotilla inquiry
Israel's surprise announcement that it will cooperate with a United Nations investigation into the deadly May 31 Gaza flotilla raid signals the nation's assessment that it cannot keep alienating allies.
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"I thought it was a mistake not to cooperate with the Goldstone committee," says Uzi Dayan, a former general who headed Israel’s National Security Council from 2003 to 2005. He says he agrees with the decision to cooperate with the UN flotilla probe.Skip to next paragraph
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“We are not happy with it, but I think it was the right decision. If you can’t prevent such an investigation … at least you have to play a role,” says Gen. Dayan (ret.), a member of Netanyahu's Likud party.
He cautions, however, that it is essential that the UN flotilla investigation’s mandate include not only the actions of Israel, but also Turkey’s role and the activities of Hamas, the Islamist movement in charge of Gaza that both Israel and the US consider a terrorist organization.
While Israel has eased its strict siege on Gaza, it has insisted on maintaining the naval blockade, which it sees as essential to preventing Iranian arms shipments from reaching Hamas.
Rise of militant Islamist groups changes Israel's strategy
It is precisely the rise of militant Islamist organizations such as Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon that has made Israel realize that military power alone is insufficient, says Yossi Alpher, co-editor of the commentary website Bitterlemons.org.
“If you look over the last few years of our confrontations with Hezbollah and Hamas, you see that increasingly we recognize how difficult it is to find workable military and political strategies for dealing with these enemies,” he says. “And increasingly we are prepared to fall back on the international community.”
For example, Mr. Alpher points out, one of the stated aims of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the Lebanon war four years ago was to bring an international force into southern Lebanon, from which Hezbollah had escalated rocket attacks on northern Israel. “That is totally without precedent in the IDF and it reflects the huge reluctance to end up a position where we’re reoccupying southern Lebanon or occupying Gaza,” he says.
So while Israel’s security concerns remain unchanged, the state is increasingly looking to international alliances as essential to addressing those concerns, according to Mr. Javedanfar.
"In today’s world, military power can only defend you so much. You need more international credibility and Israel, whose opinion in many cases was very valid, was finding that it had less and less of an audience because ... it acted as if it did not have to answer to anybody," he says. “Israel will still have the same security concerns but now it seems it’s using a more broad range of tools to address them – one of which is cooperating with the UN.”
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