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Israel rejects international investigation of Freedom Flotilla raid

But Israeli leaders – including far-right Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman – say they are open to US involvement in a domestic investigation of the Israeli raid that killed nine activists on the Gaza-bound "Freedom Flotilla."

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Israel has made clear it will conduct an investigation; the open question is whether it will be a domestic probe or one that will satisfy international calls for transparency and credibility.

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"It is our standard practice after military operations, especially operations in which there have been fatalities, to conduct a prompt, professional, transparent and objective investigation in accordance with the highest international standards," said government spokesman Mark Regev, according to the Associated Press.

Seven top cabinet ministers in Mr. Netanyahu's government are reportedly discussing whether to approve an internal investigation that would include an American observer or observers.

Even Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who in the past has been the most vociferous critic of international pressures on Israel, told Israel's Ynet news that he sees no problem of commissioning an investigation with international involvement.

Livni: We want to leave the world outside Israel's door

Opposition leader Tzipi Livni also supports an Israeli investigation with a degree of foreign involvement coordinated via the US.

"Israeli soldiers acted appropriately, period. But the entire world has come out with strange positions on various commissions of inquiry,'' she told Israel radio. "The goal of the [Israeli] government needs to leave the world outside the door of Israel… The Americans can lower the threshold of international involvement.''

Shlomo Dror, a spokesman for Israel's defense ministry, says the army is already conducting a standard review of the incident necessary to learn lessons for the future. Under normal circumstances such a review is the preferred method, he says. However he acknowledged that the international political environment is "bad'' for Israel.

"Is it necessary to check what happened there from the point of view from an independent committee? We will have to deal with this issue with the US," he says. "We are open to the US [involvement] in the investigation we will do here, there will be no problem to share it.''

Why Israel is wary

Following the Gaza war, some Israeli politicians argued that the government should set up its own independent committee headed by a retired Israeli judge to fend off inquiries from the UN, but Defense Minister Ehud Barak opposed.

Israel has lobbied foreign allies to block the UN-sponsored Goldstone investigation, which it considers a biased attempt to limit its ability to respond to attacks from groups like Hamas and Hezbollah.

So despite the readiness to work with the US on a flotilla investigation, Israel is uneasy about opening up the process to an international panel.


IN PICTURES: The Gaza flotilla and the aftermath of the Israeli naval raid