White House denies support of UN probe into flotilla raid
Weekly Standard reports US administration officials say President Obama plans to support independent UN probe into deadly raid on Gaza-bound sail. Shortly after report published, White House spokesman says US backs internal Israeli investigation
WASHINGTON - The White House on Friday denied a Weekly Standard report that the US administration intends to support the appointment of a UN commission to investigate the Israeli raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla.
White House Spokesman Tommy Vietor said the United States continues to back the swift, credible, independent and transparent probe that Israel plans to launch.
Earlier, neo-conservative American paper the Weekly Standard reported that US administration officials have told foreign governments that President Obama intends to support next week the United Nations' efforts to appoint an independent committee to probe the Israeli takeover of the Gaza-bound flotilla.
US defense establishment elements who are opposed to the UN probe said such an investigation would be one-sided against Israel, and would not examine Turkey and Hamas' involvement in the violent occurrences.
They expressed concern that such an investigation would set a precedent for external probes into incidents involving American troops or CIA agents in the war on terror.
The paper reported that US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice plays an important role in pushing for American support of a UN probe, in accordance with President Obama's position.
But the White House vehemently denied the report, and the statement said that the Americans are open to various channels to ensure the credibility of an inquiry led by Israel, including international participation.
The statement added that intensive talks are currently being held with Israeli officials in order to ensure progress in the matter.
The White House spokesman added that he had no knowledge of a session scheduled to take place in the UN regarding the flotilla raid next week.
Earlier, Washington sources told Ynet on Friday that the US administration is disappointed with Israel's proposed solution for an investigation into the flotilla raid.
According to the sources, time is working against Israel, and the delays are only pushing the US into a corner and decreasing the chances it may promote a solution that is favorable for Israel.
Friday morning Israeli media reported that former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel has been contacted recently and asked to head an inquiry commission.
Turkel told Army Radio recently that "there is no other way but to appoint a state commission of inquiry." He added, "I am not a supporter of personal recommendations. What I see before my eyes is the matter discussed. I want failures not to happen anymore, and whether someone is dismissed or not dismissed or whether his position will be frozen or not is a marginal issue as far as I'm concerned."
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Quartet envoy Tony Blair on Friday, in hopes of garnering international support to prevent the entry of weapons to the Gaza Strip, the Prime Minister's Office said in a statement.
According to the statement, humanitarian and civilian goods can be delivered to the residents of the Strip "via other channels."
The two also discussed easement in the siege on Gaza, but did not reach any agreements.