Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of Monday’s cabinet meeting that the main goal of the Gaza flotilla probe is to prove to the world that the Israel Navy operation on the Gaza-bound aid ship was appropriate and met international standards.
“The government decision will make it clear to the world that Israel is acting legally, responsibly, and with complete transparency,” said Netanyahu.
The cabinet approved the inquiry commission into the Gaza flotilla events in a unanimous vote. “It is not ideal, but the other options are less good,” Netanyahu said regarding the probe. “The flotilla to Gaza was not a one-time incident. We are in the midst of a difficult and continuous fight against the state of Israel.”
Netanyahu told the ministers that it was particularly important to announce the Gaza flotilla probe panel on Sunday and for it to be approved on Monday, since the foreign ministers of the European Unions are due to convene on Sunday to discuss the events that led up to the IDF raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla which killed nine Turkish activists.
North Irish Nobel laureate, Canadian jurist to serve as observers
The committee will include two international observers and tackle the legality of the blockade of Gaza and the legality of the navy’s actions. The committee will also determine whether investigations of claims of war crimes and breaches of international law conform to the Western standards.
A retired Supreme Court justice, Jacob Turkel, will head the committee, whose members will included Shabtai Rosen, 93, a professor of international law who is an Israel Prize laureate in legal sciences and a Hague Prize laureate in international law. Also on the panel will be Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Horev, former president of the Technion - Israel Institute of Technology.
Two foreign observers will take part in the committee’s deliberations. The statement released by the Prime Minister’s Bureau did not say what their powers would be. The first observer will be William David Trimble, a Northern Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Trimble joined the “Friends of Israel” initiative launched in Paris some two weeks ago, in which Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations, Dore Gold, was also involved. Gold is considered a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The second international observer will be Ken Watkin, former military judge advocate general from Canada.
The committee will also examine the Turkish position and actions taken by the flotilla’s organizers, especially the Turkish group IHH, which has alleged ties to terrorist groups, as well as the identity of the participants in the flotilla and their intentions.