US calls Israeli probe of Mavi Marmara raid ‘impartial’

26 January 2011, Wednesday / TODAY’S ZAMAN WITH WIRES, ANKARA
The United States has described as “credible and impartial and transparent” an Israeli inquiry that cleared the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and government of any wrongdoing in a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound international flotilla. The Turkish president lambasted the report as having “no value or credibility.”
Nine pro-Palestinian activists — eight Turkish citizens and a Turkish American — were killed when Israeli commandos boarded a ship sailing as part of the flotilla, the Mavi Marmara, on May 31. An Israeli panel that investigated the raid said Sunday that the armed defense of Israel’s maritime blockade of the Hamas-ruled coastal strip was justified under international law. Turkey condemned the report on Sunday, saying it was “surprised, appalled and dismayed.”

US State Department spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters on Monday that UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s panel remains the “primary forum for the international community to review the incident.” But he called the completion of the first part of the Israeli probe “an important step,” as it looked to the release of the second part over the next few months.

“We think that this is an independent report, credible and impartial and transparent investigation that has been undertaken by Israel,” Crowley said. “And it will contribute to the broader process that continues through the [UN] secretary-general,” he added.

In İstanbul, Turkish President Abdullah Gül said the findings illustrate “Israel’s spoiled attitude, that has no regard for the world or for international law.” “What Israel did has nothing to do with international law. This is Israel’s own document and it has no value or credibility in terms of international law,” Gül told reporters late on Monday.

At the UN headquarters in New York, a spokesperson for the UN secretary-general was reminded of the fact that when Turkey submitted its report in September of last year, it didn’t disclose it and, yet, Israel made its report public. “I’ll leave it over to the panel themselves to make a determination about whether the matters have been handled appropriately or not,” spokesman Farhan Haq said when asked whether there is any rule about disclosing the material and the report.

In Israel, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed satisfaction with the conclusion of the Israeli panel’s report. “Our soldiers acted to protect themselves and to protect their country,” Netanyahu was quoted by Israeli media as saying in a statement. This was not only their right but their obligation, and the State of Israel stands behind them, Netanyahu said. He also suggested that Israel is accused of war crimes every time it must defend itself.

In a separate statement, the IDF said the report “will be taken into consideration and appropriate findings will be implemented.”

Özdem Sanberk, a Turkish member of the UN’s flotilla inquiry, wrote in the Financial Times on Monday that Israel and Turkey, once allies, were now deeply estranged. “The publication of Israel’s official defense of its actions before a United Nations panel is happening in a fashion more likely to open new wounds than heal the breach,” Sanberk said.

“An apology for the killings, along with compensation for the dead and injured, would create the basis for a fresh start in relations,” he added. Turkey has scaled back ties and demanded Israel apologize and pay damages for the raid, which caused an international outcry. Israel has broached compensation, but refused to admit fault.

US calls Israeli probe of Mavi Marmara raid ‘impartial’.

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