UN body seeks Israeli cooperation in flotilla probe

August 4th, 2010 - 9:11 pm ICT by IANS  

Geneva/Tel Aviv, Aug 4 (DPA) The president of the UN Human Rights Council Wednesday called for Israel to collaborate with the team he has appointed to investigate the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May.
“I hope they will engage positively … with the mission,” Sihasak Phuangketkeow said in Geneva.

The three-member “independent international fact-finding mission” is tasked with travelling to the Middle East to examine whether the flotilla raid, which left nine Turkish activists dead, violated international law.

“But it is not about finger-pointing anyone. It is about looking into the facts,” Sihasak said.

The investigative team includes former International Criminal Court judge Karl Hudson-Phillips, past war crimes prosecutor Desmond de Silva and UN gender-equality official Mary Shanthi Dairiam.

The trio is expected to deliver a report in September about its discussions with politicians, military officials and other involved parties in the region. Meetings with Turkish officials and the Palestinian National Authority are also planned.

“Israel could set a good precedent by talking to us,” Sihasak said, adding that the members of the investigative team “have no preconceived opinion” on the raid.

The council had voted 32-3 for the resolution that formed the mission two days after the raid. The US, Norway and Italy opposed the measure.

The rights council president was quick to note that the council’s mission is not meant to compete with another investigative team that was appointed by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon Monday.

That four-member panel, born out of a UN Security Council statement issued after the raid, is headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and outgoing Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. It also features an Israeli and a Turkish official.

“We are working on the ground … New York is relying more on reports submitted by the parties,” he said.

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