gaza flotilla raid 311.
(photo credit: IDF)
NEW YORK – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s panel of inquiry on the May 31
Gaza flotilla incident is set to meet for the first time in New York on
RELATED:PM threatens to quit UN flotilla panel if soldiers probed
“I am grateful for the spirit of constructive engagement that
has made this unprecedented panel possible,” Ban said at a news conference on
Monday. “I am confident that this initiative will contribute to regional
The four-member panel will include businessman Joseph
Ciechanover representing Israel and Özdem Sanberk representing Turkey. It will
be chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and co-chaired
by former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Israel has “nothing to hide”
from the secretary-general’s panel of inquiry, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
said in a statement last week.
“It is in Israel’s national interest to
ensure that the factual truth about the entire flotilla incident will be brought
to light,” he said.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said,
in a statement, that the UN panel would have the authority to “make
recommendations as to how to avoid such events in the future.”
said the panel should complement rather than substitute for national
investigations by Israel and Turkey.
The panel, however, has recently
drawn criticism from the International Federation of Human Rights.
open letter to Ban, the organization expressed “serious concerns” with regard to
the panel’s composition and mandate.
“In failing to meet the standards of
an effective investigation, this probe risks contributing to a culture of
impunity,” the federation’s letter read.
“As of now, the panel’s mandate
has not been clearly defined and seems to be limited to simply assessing
national investigation reports. This would clearly not be sufficient to bring to
light the circumstances of this tragedy and bring those responsible to account,
in an independent and impartial manner.”
Additionally, the International
Federation of Human Rights letter characterized the panel’s composition as
“highly political” and stated that Uribe’s inclusion in the panel’s membership
would “seriously damage” its credibility.
“Thousands of extrajudicial and
summary executions, massacres, enforced disappearances, internally displaced
persons and other grave international crimes have been documented by the United
Nations themselves in Colombia under Uribe’s presidency,” the letter
Also, the letter contended, Uribe “has publicly looked to reinforce
Colombia’s military relationship with Israel and has developped [sic] security
cooperation conventions during his mandate.”
The letter insists on
Israel’s cooperation with a separate, ongoing UN Human Rights Council flotilla
investigation, which has been criticized by many as blatantly anti-Israel.
Israel has said it will cooperate with Ban’s flotilla probe, but has denied
assistance to members of the Geneva-based Human Rights Council
The UN panel of inquiry is expected to deliver a progress
report by mid-September and its final report in February 2011.