Israel is unlikely to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council’s investigatory
team to probe IDF activities aboard the Gaza-bound flotilla on May 31, sources in
the Prime Minister’s Office said on Saturday night.
The sources said that
while no formal decision had been made on whether to cooperate with the
factfinding mission appointed on Friday, it was unlikely – given the committee’s
one-sided mandate – that Israel would do so.
Not only was the mandate
stacked against Israel, one official said, but UN war crimes prosecutor Desmond
de Silva, chosen to head the panel, spoke forcefully against Israel’s actions
regarding the flotilla before he was appointed.
Israel’s position is that
the IDF investigatory committee, which was headed by Maj.-Gen. (res.) Giora
Eiland and has already submitted its findings, and the Turkel Commission, which
includes two foreign observers, are sufficiently able to probe the
Diplomatic sources said that Israel remains hopeful that UN
Secretary- General Ban Ki-moon would find these investigations
News of the appointment of the new three-member fact-finding
mission in Geneva was met with apathy in New York.
Ban had no comment on
the Human Rights Council’s committee, and was “continuing with his efforts to
win approval for his proposed international inquiry, which is separate from this
one,” a representative of his office said.
Fatah and Hamas praised the
appointment of the three-member panel.
Fatah spokesman Ahmed A’saf said
that Israel should not be treated as if it was above the law and that Israeli
war criminals should be tried for their actions.
consultant Yusuf Rizka expressed concerns that Israel would not cooperate with
the investigative team, which could damage the investigation’s
He added that Hamas hoped the investigation would lead to the
experts recommending that Israel end the sea and land blockade of the Gaza
Hillel Neuer, executive-director of the Geneva- based
nongovernmental group UN Watch, said the outcome of the probe was
“The mandate of the probe violates due process and
objectivity, by presuming Israeli guilt from the outset,” Neuer said. “It’s
another example of what former UN rights chief Mary Robinson recently described
as the unfortunate and regrettable practice by the council to adopt resolutions
guided not by human rights but by politics.”
According to Neuer, “by
declaring Israel guilty before any facts were even collected, the [Rights
Council] resolution taints the mission with prejudicial bias, and contravenes
the UN’s own Declaration on Fact Finding, which requires objectivity and
“The perception of the council’s one-sided approach and
lack of credibility is so severe that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s office
in New York has completely ignored this probe in seeking to establish their
own,” Neuer said.
Friday’s announcement of the panel’s formation in
Geneva followed the council’s decision on June 2 to condemn the IDF raid on the
flotilla and to probe the events of that morning.
In that resolution, the
council stated that IDF actions were “outrageous” and that it “deplored the loss
of innocent” life aboard the flotilla.
The council on June 2 asked the
fact finding mission to “investigate violations of international law, including
international humanitarian and human rights law, resulting from the Israeli
attack on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian assistance.”
resolution made no mention of video footage already available that showed
passengers aboard one of the flotilla ships, the Mavi Marmara, attacking IDF
commandos. All nine fatalities that morning were aboard the Mavi
On Friday, council President Sihasak Phuangketkeow said, “The
expertise, independence and impartiality of the members of the mission will be
devoted to clarifying the events which took place that day and their legality.
We call upon all parties to fully cooperate with the mission and hope that this
mission will contribute to peace in the region and justice for the
In addition to de Silva, the probe includes Judge Karl T.
Hudson-Phillips of Trinidad and Tobago and Mary Shanthi Dairiam of
Hudson-Phillips was a judge of the International Criminal Court
from 2003 to 2007. He was attorney-general and minister of legal affairs of
Trinidad and Tobago between 1969 and 1973. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in
1971. He has now returned to private practice with chambers in Trinidad and
Tobago and in Grenada.
De Silva, from the United Kingdom, is an attorney
with experience in human rights, war crimes, terrorism, business crime,
espionage trials and sports law. He was chief prosecutor of the UN-backed
Special Court for Sierra Leone in 2005 at the level of a UN under-secretary-
general. He has been Queen’s Counsel since 1984.
Dairiam was a member of
the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women from 2005 to
2008. Since 2007, she has been on the Gender Equality Task Force of the UN
Development Program. She is a founding member of the board of directors of the
International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific.
cabinet on Sunday is expected to approve the addition of two members to the
Turkel Commission: former Foreign Ministry director-general Reuven Merhav and
law professor Miguel Deutsch. They will join retired Supreme Court justice Jacob
Turkel, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Horev, international law expert Shabtai
Rosenne and international observers David Trimble and Ken Watkin on the
Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.