Israel announces Gaza aid flotilla inquiry, Turkey not satisfied
Israel opened a limited investigation into the legality of its raid on the Gaza aid flotilla. Irish and Canadian observers will participate. Israel and the US hope the move will reduce the country's international isolation, but critics say plan doesn't go far enough.
Seeking to allay criticism of its fatal raid on a boat participating in the Gaza aid flotilla that challenged the economic blockade of the Palestinian territory, Israel said it will create a commission to investigate the legality of its decision to board the boat in international waters.Skip to next paragraph
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The Israeli cabinet unanimously approved the creation of the domestic commission, which will also include an Northern Ireland politician and Nobel Peace Prize winner David Trimble and a Canadian legal expert as non-voting observers. The commission will not have the power to investigate the Israeli military, and is well short of the independent international investigation demanded by Turkey, nine of whose citizens were killed in the Israeli raid.
But coupled with an expected relaxation of Israel's siege on the coastal strip controlled by Hamas, analysts here believe the commission could potentially ease Israel's isolation as well as broader pressure for an international probe. The US has backed the Israeli investigation, as have some European governments.
Israel is reportedly considering allowing more goods through its border with the Gaza Strip and the stationing of foreign monitors on the Gaza border passages.
"This is part of a transaction,'' said Yaron Ezrahi, a political science professor at Hebrew University. "That can be interpreted as an achievement of the flotilla. It tempers the demands for an international investigation. The peace activists will be satisfied that their actions and risk taking produced a change in Israeli policy.''
A government spokesperson said that Israel is continuing to mull ways to relax the three-year blockade on commercial products through its land crossings into the Gaza Strip. A European Union diplomat told Agence France Press that Israel is willing to enact a "significant'' shift in policy at its borders.
Turkey not satisfied
Turkey, however, responded that it has no confidence in Israel's ability to investigate the May 31 killing of nine Turkish activists on the Mavi Marmara, which sailed under a Turkish flag. Some of the activists were armed with knives and metal clubs.
"We have no trust at all that Israel, a country that has carried out such an attack on a civilian convoy in international waters, will conduct an impartial investigation," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Ankara.