Israel agrees for UN probe into Gaza aid flotilla raid

Israel agreed for a UN probe into the May 31 raid by its commandos on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

Jerusalem/United Nations: Succumbing to an
international investigation for its army`s action for the
first time, Israel today agreed for a UN probe into the bloody
May 31 raid by its commandos on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, a
development described by UN chief Ban Ki-moon as
"unprecedented."

Israeli naval commandos, airdropped on a Turkish aid
ship deck to enforce their country`s blockade of the Gaza
Strip, killing nine pro-Palestinian activists, sparking
worldwide condemnation for its action, including from India.

The decision to accept the UN`s proposal to
establish an international panel of inquiry into?the
deadly raid, the first such instance when Israel would be
agreeing to an external investigation into its army`s actions,
was taken by the `Forum of Seven` senior ministers led by
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

It is also the first time Israel will be represented
on a UN committee dealing with its activities. Israel had
balked at the UN request, but has faced international pressure
to allow for an external probe into the matter.

The Forum of Seven decided to give UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon a positive response, in principle, to
allow him to move forward with establishing the panel of
inquiry. Negotiations will simultaneously continue regarding
who will comprise the committee and over its mandate.

Secretary-General Ban has announced a four-member
panel to investigate the raid of the Gaza bound flotilla by
Israeli forces that led to the death of nine Turks.

"Today I am very pleased to announce the launch of
the Panel. This is an unprecedented development," he added.
The panel will be led by former New Zealand premier,
Geoffrey Palmer, who will be joined by outgoing president of
Colombia, Alvaro Uribe as Vice-Chair. The panel will also have
two additional members, one each from Israel and Turkey.

It will begin its work on August 10 and submit the
first progress report by mid September.
"I thank the leaders of the two countries with
whom I have engaged in last minute consultations over the
weekend, for their spirit of compromise and forward looking
cooperation," Ban said.

In the past few months, Israel has rejected all
calls for an international investigation.
"For the past two months, I have engaged in
intensive consultation with the leaders of Israel and Turkey
on the setting-up of a Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla
incident of 31 May," Ban said in a statement.

PTI

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