Netanyahu rejects Ban's call for int'l probe of flotilla raid
PM tells Likud ministers he did not accept UN chief's proposal to set up commission of inquiry headed by former New Zealand prime minister and comprised of Israeli, American and Turkish reps. 'I am looking into other possibilities,' Netanyahu says
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's recommendation to establish an international commission of inquiry into Israel's raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla last Monday, which left nine people dead.
"I told the UN chief that establishing the facts must be conducted responsibly and objectively. I am looking into other possibilities," Netanyahu told a meeting of Likud ministers on Sunday.
Among other options, Israel is examining the possibility of setting up an inquiry commission similar to the Winograd Commission, which probed the government and military's conduct during the Second Lebanon War.
According to Ban's proposal, the committee would be headed by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, an expert on maritime law. Committee members would include representatives from the United States, Turkey and Israel.
The proposal, which was relayed to Israel over the weekend, is set to be discussed by the "forum of seven ministers" later in the day.
"Over the weekend I spoke with US Vice President Joe Biden and the prime ministers of Greece and Bulgaria, as well as with Ban. During my conversation with Ban I conveyed all the information we have on the conduct of the members of the extreme Turkish group (IHH) that supports terror," Netanyahu said during the Likud meeting, "I told him we must find out who organized them, who funds them, who equipped them and how they boarded the ship."
Addressing Ban's proposal, the Israeli premier said, "It is not true that I agreed to accept his offer to examine the facts. I made it clear to him that the facts must be established objectively and responsibly. We must consider this matter with caution, while safeguarding the national interests of Israel and the IDF."
Netanyahu apparently backs Defense Minister Ehud Barak's position, according to which Israel will not allow any international inquiry commission to interrogate IDF soldiers and officers.
Israel's ambassador to the United States Michael Oren told "Fox News Sunday" that Israel is "rejecting an international commission. We are discussing with the Obama administration a way in which our inquiry will take place."
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has suggested setting up an external commission of inquiry into the flotilla raid. Sources who are familiar with the affair told Ynet that Weinstein is in favor of establishing a committee similar to the Winograd Commission, which investigated the was against Hezbollah in 2006.
"Israel must respond on the public relations front and, due to international pressure, set up its own commission of inquiry before it is forced to establish an international one," a senior official told Ynet.
Reuters contributed to the report