Israel's Netanyahu balks at UN investigation of Gaza flotilla raid

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebuffed a proposal from United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to have an international panel investigate last week's deadly Gaza flotilla raid.

Jim Hollander/Reuters
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, Sunday. Netanyahu balked at any suggestion that the UN be involved in an investigation of the Gaza flotilla raid.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu balked Sunday at a proposal by United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon to set up a panel to investigate Israel's deadly Gaza flotilla raid last week, potentially prolonging a rift between the Jewish state and the international community.

Mr. Ban proposed a panel headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Jeffrey Palmer, along with Israeli and Turkish representatives, according to Israeli media reports. But Mr. Netanyahu expressed concern about a rush to judgment, according to one Israeli official.

"Nothing was finalized, and nothing was decided,'' said the official. The prime minister said "that all decisions have to be taken calmly, and not under the pressure of events."

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

Who will conduct the investigation?

The US and other countries have pressed for an impartial investigation of the incident. And some in Israel – including the foreign ministry, according to local reports – believe that an investigation with international involvement would both help ease the uproar and confirm their narrative that the pro-Palestinian activists in last week's Gaza flotilla had to be repelled with lethal force.

Still, many Israelis reject the idea of an international investigation.

"I don't need anyone to tell us what we did [was] wrong," says businessman Joshua Drucker. " We are a democracy and we can conduct our own investigation."

An investigation by Israel alone, however, is unlikely to satisfy the international community.

"If Israel wants to go it alone, as fair as the investigation may be, it will be difficult to sell to the international community,'' said Meir Javedanfar, a Middle East expert based in Tel Aviv. "Netanyahu has to consider domestic political considerations as well as Israel's foreign-policy standing, and to bring in Turkish investigators into the committee would be very controversial, and would not go down too well in Israel.''

Growing support for the military

In Israel, there has been a swelling tide of support for the military, which was initially lambasted at home and abroad for the deaths.

In the Israeli paper, Yediot Ahronot, the soldiers were lauded as "heroes'' for extracting themselves from a surprise ambush "without suffering losses and without killing innocent people.''

A billboard outside the headquarters of an Israeli military base featured a message to the Navy commandos: "Deep at sea, deep in our hearts."

Still, Israel's diplomatic isolation has spilled over to culture. In the wake of the flotilla flare up, the rock group "The Pixies" announced that they would cancel a planned concert date in Israel.

The Pixies are the latest in a growing number of musicians to cancel shows in Israel. Rock singer Elvis Costello, spoken-word jazz performer Gil Scott-Heron, and guitar legend Carlos Santana all canceled shows this summer.

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


of stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Unlimited digital access $11/month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.