Israel threatens to back out of UN flotilla probe 10Aug10 August 11, 2010

Palestine Note -  10 August 2010

AFP quoted Netanyahu spokesman Nir Hefetz in a statement to military radio: “The prime minister said Israel would not cooperate with any commission that would ask to question soldiers.”

“Before Israel gave the green light to its participation in the panel we had discreet negotiations in order to ensure that this commission would not harm the vital interests of Israel,” Hefetz said.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon has denied such an agreement took place, AFP reported.

The UN panel of inquiry was slated to convene in New York Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post said, and Ban was quoted at a news conference Monday saying: “I am grateful for the spirit of constructive engagement that has made this unprecedented panel possible … I am confident that this initiative will contribute to regional stability.”

A separate international investigation by the UN Human Right Council has been completely rejected by Israel.

Israel’s pre-dawn raid on the Gaza-bound convoy left nine pro-Palestinian activists dead and several Israeli commandos wounded.

Israel could back out of the United Nation’s investigation of the May 31 high-seas raid of aid ships attempting to reach the Gaza Strip if investigators attempt to question military personnel, AFP news agency reported Tuesday.

Israel initially refused an international inquiry into the raid on the “Freedom Flotilla,” and it launched its own investigations – a military investigation concluded in July and an investigation into the legality of the raid led by retired Israeli jurist Jacob Turkel. The Turkel commissions began hearing testimonies of Israeli officials Monday, beginning with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The commission heard Defense Minister Ehud Barak Tuesday, and military Chief of Staff Gabi Askenazi is slated to appear before the commission Wednesday.

The Turkel commission has severely limited access to Israeli military personnel in its investigation, but its powers have been widened since it was first created.

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