Israelis say U.N. report on Gaza flotilla to appear soon

TEL AVIV Thu Jul 7, 2011 2:55pm EDT

Israeli commandos are seen on a Gaza-bound ship in the Mediterranean Sea in this frame grab taken from footage released by DHA on May 31, 2010. REUTERS/DHA via Reuters TV

Israeli commandos are seen on a Gaza-bound ship in the Mediterranean Sea in this frame grab taken from footage released by DHA on May 31, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/DHA via Reuters TV

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TEL AVIV (Reuters) - A U.N. report on Israel's bloody seizure of a Turkish ship trying to carry aid to Gaza will be published on July 27 after delays to enable talks between Israel and Turkey, an Israeli official said on Thursday.

The official, speaking on condition of anonymity, declined to discuss the findings of the committee set up by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and chaired by former New Zealand premier Geoffrey Palmer, saying only they had been finalized.

But another Israeli official, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, said earlier that previous drafts of the Palmer report indicated the panel would rule mostly in favor of Israel.

"From what we understand, the report justifies the (Gaza) blockade. It says the blockade is legitimate, that Israel took legitimate steps," he told reporters.

Steinitz, who sits in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's eight-member inner council, said the Palmer report would include "minor" criticism of the interception last year of the converted cruise ship Mavi Marmara as it tried to run the Gaza blockade.

Israeli marines killed nine pro-Palestinian activists from Turkey in fierce deck brawls. Both sides insist they acted in self-defense. Israel has voiced concern that criticism of its tactics could expose personnel to lawsuits and arrest abroad.

The Israelis say the blockade is warranted to prevent arms reaching the Gaza Strip's ruling Hamas Islamists, who are hostile to the Jewish state.

Palestinians and their supporters, including Turkey, see it as an illegal pressure on the heavily aid-dependent coastal strip.

The U.N. Human Rights Council, in a separate earlier probe boycotted by Israel as biased, condemned the blockade and the Mavi Marmara seizure.

"The (Palmer) report's compliance with international laws is very important to us, and an outcome that contradicts the U.N. Human Rights Commission report will be unacceptable," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Wednesday.

The Turkish government, which says it was not directly involved the Mavi Marmara mission, has demanded Israel apologize for the casualties and offer compensation. Israel has agreed in principle to the latter only.

A senior Israeli official voiced hope that, given the regional upheaval of the Arab Spring, the Jewish state and its once-stalwart Muslim ally Turkey could heal the rift.

"But there is not much time before the Palmer report comes out, and we may not succeed," the official said, likening rapprochement talks held over recent months in Geneva and New York to "two porcupines trying to come together."

(Writing by Dan Williams; editing by Andrew Roche)

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Comments (3)
saavedra wrote:
I’m glad we aren’t getting the typical obfuscation and interminable, infamous, foot-dragging the IDF. Now we have to (yawwwn) wait for the demonizing of the report a la Justice Goldstone report on the Gaza slaughter in Operation Caste Lead(a.ka. casete white phospherous and massive ordinance on a trapped civillian population in an open air prison).

Jul 07, 2011 3:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
colindale wrote:
Whatever is the content of the UN report, nothing can change the facts:

1. The heavily armed Israeli commandos attacked a civilian vessel on the high seas in international waters, which is a gross breach of international law.

2. The Israeli troops killed eight Turkish nationals and one American passenger at point blank range.

3. Such a cowardly attack on passengers who had no guns or armaments was a disgraceful episode by a state that pretends to be democratic. Killing civilians is not democratic, and these murdered dissenters were civilians.

Jul 07, 2011 4:40pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
GDriver wrote:
The animal-like killing at point blank range of nine unarmed human rights activists by a group of uniformed thugs is an international disgrace and a bloody stain on democracy worldwide.

Any report produced as a result of political pressure by the perpetrators is worthless. The only relevant facts are the nine dead bodies and their bereaved families. All life is valuable, but particularly that of civilians.

How much more murder do we have to witness as one small state rides roughshod over the Geneva Conventions and international law, with complete impunity and immunity from justice?

It is a global stain on both the UN and the EU. Time for remedial action is now.

Jul 08, 2011 7:24am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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