Monday, August 2, 2010

Israel had no choice but to cooperate with UN flotilla probe, but will not allow Israeli's to be questioned

(Ynet).State officials stressed Monday that though Israel had agreed to cooperate with a UN probe on the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May, the government would not allow the committee to interrogate Israeli officers, civilians, or soldiers.

"There was no choice but to agree to the international community's demands, first and foremost those of the US and the UN," one official source said.

"We could have been considered naysayers, or we could have done what we did, which was to take part in determining the mandate that will be given to the committee and affect its program."

The source said the committee would have been established in any case, even without Israel's consent. "Though Israel didn't want another inquiry, there was no choice," he said.

However he stressed that the committee would not receive testimony from any Israeli citizen or military official, and would have to make do with documents. At most it will be permitted to interrogate state leaders.

Meanwhile Turkish media has reported that the country's representative at the committee will probably be an established former diplomat.

Many in Israel praised the government's decision. Yossi Shain, a professor of Political Science in Tel Aviv University, called it the "right decision".

"Israel wants to reduce tension and prevent additional flotillas, as well as express international cooperation, and this is the right way to do that,The mistakes were clear. The Eiland report highlighted them, and now we need to correct the damage on another plane – the damage is worse on the international front."

Professor Natan Lerner, of Israel's most respected experts on international law, agreed. He said the Goldstone committee on Operation Cast Lead, with which Israel refused to cooperate, had concluded that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza because the state was adamant in refusing to talk to it.

"We need to be realistic," he said. "We have to take our place in the international community."