WASHINGTON – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon convened a panel investigating the IDF raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla Tuesday for the first time since the members were appointed.
UN spokesman Martin Nesirky did not rule out that the panel might seek to talk to IDF soldiers or officials from either side to seek information or clarification, though Israel has said it would not cooperate with any probe againstits soldiers.
Ban met former prime minister of New Zealand, Geoffrey Palmer, outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe, Israeli representative Joseph Ciechanover, and Turkish delegate Özdem Sanberk at the UN Headquarters in New York.
In a statement to the press, Ban said the panel was "not designed to determine individual criminal responsibility, but to examine and identify the facts, circumstances and the context of the incident, as well as to recommend ways of avoiding future incidents".
On Tuesday evening the four panel members are set to hold their first work meeting. Ban stressed that as part of their task, they should "seek the fullest cooperation of the national authorities".
On Monday Ban denied having made any agreement with Israel stipulating that the panel would refrain from questioning military commanders.
Israel responded firmly to the secretary-general's denial, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reiterating that "Israel would not participate in any panel which wants to question IDF soldiers."
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