(photo credit: Associated Press)
Turkey and the Palestinians – both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas – were quick to dismiss the committee set up on Monday to probe the Gaza flotilla incident. Turkey said that Israel could not be impartial, with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu saying, “We have no trust at all that Israel” can conduct an objective investigation.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has reportedly dispatched an envoy to Washington to discuss the matter with US President Barack Obama, amid concern that Ankara might sever diplomatic ties with Israel over the matter.
The PA and Hamas on Monday rejected Israel’s decision to form a committee as “insufficient” and called for the establishment of an international commission of inquiry.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who met in Paris with French President Nicolas Sarkozy, told reporters that the committee that was announced by the Israeli government “did not meet the demand of the United Nations Security Council.”
Abbas said the Palestinians wanted to see an international commission of inquiry into the incident as demanded by the Security Council. He also reiterated his call for the lifting of the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas and several Palestinian factions also dismissed the Israeli committee as a “ploy” aimed at exonerating the Israeli government of its responsibility for the violent confrontation. They also accused Israel of making a mockery out of the international community by rejecting an external commission of inquiry initiated by the Security Council.
“Israel is trying to avoid responsibility for the ugly crime it perpetrated against the activists on board the ships,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas. He said that the committee formed by the government was not serious and would not bring anything new.
“Through this internal committee, the occupation is trying to ease international pressure on Israel,” he added.
The Hamas government said that there was no alternative to the
establishment of an international commission of inquiry that would
indict those responsible for the “crime.”
In a statement issued in Gaza City, the Hamas government appealed to
the international community to support its demand for a UN-controlled
commission of inquiry.
During Monday’s cabinet meeting, Defense Minister Ehud Barak – who was
adamantly opposed to soldiers being questioned – said the current IDF
investigation was the right way to clarify matters. He said that in the
final analysis Israel had to defend its operational abilities and that
in the split second that IDF soldiers had to react, he didn’t want the
thought going through their minds that they might have to sit in a
committee and be confronted “with a battery of lawyers.”
Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon, who was quoted as being
critical of the decision-making process in the flotilla episode, said
the committee needed to provide an answer to the US and the
international community, and as such, the inclusion of two
international observers was a price worth paying.
But, he said, the establishment of the committee was not in lieu of the
need for the political echelon to conduct an internal investigation to
improve the decision-making process.