Head of UN panel says Gaza flotilla probe faces ‘challenging task’ 2Aug10 August 3, 2010

Haaretz  -  2 August 2010

Chairing a United Nations inquiry into Israel’s raid on a Gaza-bound international convoy will be a “very challenging and demanding task,” New Zealand’s former prime minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer said Tuesday.

I can’t say anything of substance on the details of this inquiry or indeed its procedures until I’ve been to New York and discussed the issues with both the Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon] and my colleagues on the inquiry.”

Palmer, an international lawyer who briefly headed the former New Zealand Labour Party government in 1990, said: “This is a very sensitive matter. It’s a quasi-judicial inquiry, so it is really very important to maintain a sense of detachment.”

Palmer said he would go to New York to start work on the inquiry on the May 31 incident, in which Israel raided a six-ship convoy carrying humanitarian goods and activists heading for Gaza. Nine civilians died and at least 30 others were injured in the raid, which took place in international waters.

Palmer’s comments came as U.S. envoy to the UN Susan Rice said earlier Monday that Israel’s participation in the United Nations Review Panel formed to probe an Israel Defense Forces raid on a Turkish Gaza-bound flotilla eliminates the need for other international inquiries.

In a statement released Monday, Rice said that the United States expected “that the Panel will operate in a transparent and credible manner and that its work will be the primary method for the international community to review the incident, obviating the need for any overlapping international inquiries.”

“The Panel, which has the support of both Israel and Turkey, will receive and review the reports of each government’s national investigation into the incident and make recommendations as to how to avoid such incidents in the future,” Rice said.

Rice also expressed her hopes that “the Panel can serve as a vehicle to enable Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their relationship and repair their strong historic ties.”

The U.S. envoy to the UN added that Washington wished to “thank both governments for the constructive and cooperative spirit they have shown and the Secretary General for his leadership and determination,” adding that “the focus of the Panel is appropriately on the future and on preventing such incidents from recurring.”

In officially announcing the UN panel, Ban officially called Israel’s participation in it an “unprecedented development.”

Ban said that he had “engaged in intensive consultation with the leaders of Israel and Turkey on the setting-up of a Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident,” saying he was very pleased to announce the launch of the Panel.”

“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.

I can’t say anything of substance on the details of this inquiry or indeed its procedures until I’ve been to New York and discussed the issues with both the Secretary General [Ban Ki-moon] and my colleagues on the inquiry.”

Palmer, an international lawyer who briefly headed the former New Zealand Labour Party government in 1990, said: “This is a very sensitive matter. It’s a quasi-judicial inquiry, so it is really very important to maintain a sense of detachment.”

Palmer said he would go to New York to start work on the inquiry on the May 31 incident, in which Israel raided a six-ship convoy carrying humanitarian goods and activists heading for Gaza. Nine civilians died and at least 30 others were injured in the raid, which took place in international waters.

Palmer’s comments came as U.S. envoy to the UN Susan Rice said earlier Monday that Israel’s participation in the United Nations Review Panel formed to probe an Israel Defense Forces raid on a Turkish Gaza-bound flotilla eliminates the need for other international inquiries.

In a statement released Monday, Rice said that the United States expected “that the Panel will operate in a transparent and credible manner and that its work will be the primary method for the international community to review the incident, obviating the need for any overlapping international inquiries.”

“The Panel, which has the support of both Israel and Turkey, will receive and review the reports of each government’s national investigation into the incident and make recommendations as to how to avoid such incidents in the future,” Rice said.

Rice also expressed her hopes that “the Panel can serve as a vehicle to enable Israel and Turkey to move beyond the recent strains in their relationship and repair their strong historic ties.”

The U.S. envoy to the UN added that Washington wished to “thank both governments for the constructive and cooperative spirit they have shown and the Secretary General for his leadership and determination,” adding that “the focus of the Panel is appropriately on the future and on preventing such incidents from recurring.”

In officially announcing the UN panel, Ban officially called Israel’s participation in it an “unprecedented development.”

Ban said that he had “engaged in intensive consultation with the leaders of Israel and Turkey on the setting-up of a Panel of Inquiry on the flotilla incident,” saying he was very pleased to announce the launch of the Panel.”

“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.


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