Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
said Sunday morning that the committee appointed
by the United Nations Human Rights Council to investigate the deadly Navy raid
on a Gaza-bound flotilla was "similar to the Goldstone Committee with unsympathetic trends, to say the least."
According to Netanyahu, Jerusalem was deliberating "how much technical material to provide them with, if at all."
Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon seeks to appoint a different committee, which will be headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and include Israeli and Turkish representatives. "We are holding talks with the UN secretary-general on ways to cooperate on this matter," Netanyahu said.
Other ministers said there was no reason to cooperate with the Human Rights Council's committee. "They are appointing committees against us. I see no use in cooperating with them," said Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi).
Asked whether the committee members should be banned from entering Israel,
the minister replied, "Some of them probably have diplomatic passports, and I see no reason not to let them in."
Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Shas)
said that after the appointment of the Turkel Committee,
"there is no room for another committee and we must not cooperate with it." According to Yishai, "Israel appointed a committee against all logic, as there is no other moral army in the world like the IDF."
Minister for Minority Affairs Avishay Braverman (Labor)
implied that Israel should cooperate with the UN investigators. "With Goldstone we were unwise. This time we should act wisely," he said, but stressed that the Goldstone committee was "biased".
Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor) said he believed that "before we make a decision on whether to cooperate with the committee, we must hold a through discussion on the matter. I would not rule out anything before a serious discussion id held."
On Friday, the Human Rights Council appointed
a team of international experts on to investigate the flotilla raid and called on all parties to cooperate.
The fact-finding team comprises three independent experts - Sir Desmond de Silva (Britain), Karl Hudson-Phillips (Trinidad and Tobago) and Mary Shanthi Dairiam (Malaysia), a UN statement said.
Addressing the negotiations with the Palestinians, Netanyahu said he had spoken to European leaders over the weekend in a bid to work towards launching direct talks. "When the direct negotiations begin, Israel will be ready to take additional trust-building steps," he told Likud
ministers ahead of the cabinet meeting.
The ministers were also expected to hear the recommendations of an inter-ministerial committee tasked with determining the status of the children of foreign workers
living in Israel.
"This matter touches on two issues: Humanity, and Judaism and Zionism," Netanyahu said. "As a child, I used to visit my father's teacher, Professor Klausner, and outside his home there was a sign reading, 'Judaism and humanity.'
"There are small children here who grew up among us and we are looking to adopt them into our hearts and homes but to prevent the immigration of thousands, and we want to maintain the Jewish majority. These two things were before the committee's eyes during its work. I hope we will make humane decisions and complete the discussion and decision making by next week."
Interior Minister Yishai, who is leading a firm stand against the foreign workers, said before entering the meeting: "There is no good or bad here; there is a lot of hypocrisy. No one is deporting children. Those parents will be returning to their countries after a long trip. They are using the children as a human shield, and this same method will be used for the arrival of thousands of workers from Sudan and Eritrea."
As for the ministers demanding that the criteria be relaxed and that more children be allowed to stay in Israel, Yishai asked: "Are they ready for their children to study together with the children of foreign workers and be their neighbors? Anyone defined as a refugee will stay here."
He added that he had not seen the minister supporting the proposal fighting for the rights of hungry Israeli children, noting that "in any country, people who arrived illegally will be returned, and those who infiltrate the country illegally should go back to their own countries."
At the start of the meeting, the prime minister addressed Saturday's murder of three children
by their father in Netanya.
"Yesterday we witnessed a shocking incident which all of the people of Israel are grieving over, the terrible murder of the three small children – Omer, Roni and Or by their father," Netanyahu said.
"We are required as a government to prevent such incidents, and I know the welfare minister has appointed a committee together with other ministries in order for the evil in people's hearts not to be expressed against defenseless children," he added.
"I am certain that I am expressing the deep shock of the government and the people of Israel and the solidarity with the family and the mother Lilach."
Minister Herzog addressed the incident as well, saying he had ordered a committee of inquiry to look into the welfare services' handling of the affair and hand its recommendations as soon as possible.