Israel names representative to UN flotilla probe 7Aug10 August 8, 2010

Ma’an News Agency -  7 August 2010

Former Israeli Foreign Ministry official Yosef Ciechanover has been appointed as Israel’s representative to the UN committee charged with investigating the 31 May flotilla incident, Israeli media announced Saturday.

The UN commission will probe the Israeli raid of six aid vessels en route to Gaza, which killed nine passengers in international waters.

Ciechanover, according to the Israeli news site Ynet, is a former director general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, and the legal adviser to the Defense Ministry. He is also chairman of El Al, Israel’s national airline, and a member of the advisory committee for international markets on the New York NASDAQ exchange.

In addition to his posts, Ciechanover was a member of the 1997 commission appointed to investigate the failed assassination attempt of senior Hamas official Khaled Mash’al in Jordan. The commission, which delivered its report almost a year after the incident, absolved then Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of any blame. The report found Israel justified in targeting “terrorists, wherever they may be.”

Ynet reported that the appointment was agreed upon by Netanyahu, his Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

On 24 July, the UN Human Rights Council appointed three members of a commission mandated by the body immediately after the 31 May attacks on the flotilla, a move that was criticized by Israel as an example of a UN bias against the country.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke with Barak one week after the committee was appointed, and reportedly requested that Israel agree to participate in the inquiry. Two days after, Netanyahu agreed.

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