UN 2010 Gaza Flotilla Report Coming This Week
Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand and current head of the UN Commission regarding the 2010 Freedom Flotilla, will submit his committee's final report to UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon this week, sources say.
A copy of the report will be provided to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan before Moon publishes the report on July 7.
Palmer submitted a draft report to Moon, Netanyahu, and Erdogan several weeks ago, which reportedly infuriated the Turks because it concluded Israel's naval blockade on Gaza is compatible with international law, therefore Israel's boarding the vessels in international waters was legal.
Prime Minister Netanyahu's office refused to issue any comment on the final draft of the report.
Turkey Sharply Criticized
Sources say the draft report sharply criticized the Turkish government's support for the flotilla and its decision to allow the ships to sail, with Palmer focusing the majority of the report on Turkey's role, but the draft also maintained Israel had used 'excessive force' in killing 9 Turks aboard the flotilla. The Turks had attempted to lynch members of the Shayatet-13, or naval commando, who boarded the Mavi Marmara.
In that vein, the draft report had held that Israel should pay compensation to the families, but anger by both Israel and Turkey over the draft report's findings led to rejection of its filing, during which Israel and Turkey increased contacts between them in an attempt to resolve the major points of contention.
Turkey, for its part, sought to try to mitigate the harsh criticism of the draft report for its sponsorship of the draft, while continuing to insist on an Israeli apology for the deaths of its citizens who had participated in the would-be lynch mob.
Israel reportedly considered issuing an apology on condition Turkey provide an affidavit that the soldiers acted in self defense, but Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected the compromise, saying Israel would agree only to express 'sorrow' over the loss of life.
Israel and Turkey are said to be trying to mend fences between them despite conflict over the coming report.
Two weeks ago, Netanyahu sent vice premier Moshe Ya'alon for talks with his Turkish counterpart in Geneva. Also attending were Palmer committee representatives from Israel and Turkey who had coordinated negotiations over the report.
In addition, Erdogan reportedly influenced the IHH not to participate in this year's flotilla and saw to it that the Mavi Marmara did not receive the necessary permits to sail. Netanyahu, in turn, sent Erdogan a congratulatory note on his victory in the elections.
Observers say, public overtures aside, that it appears both leaders are carefully avoiding the disputed issues at the core of the report. It is unknown what compromise was reached before the final draft was prepared.
Meanwhile, even as Turkey backs off this year's Gaza "Freedom Flotilla 2," some of the eight expected ships are already underway.
A French ship 'Dignity' set sail from Corsica, while the Irish ship "Freedom" also sailed from its home country. Neither ship dislosed whether they intended to rendezvous with the other ships, saying only that their destination was Gaza.
Flotilla organizers have tried to keep a tight lid on their intentions, so as not to reveal the time of their departure or rendezvous point. But this year’s flotilla has found itself beset with calamity, as Greece, which issued a statement condemning the effort, followed Turkey's lead with the Mavi Marmara and refused to issue permits to two ships expected to sail from its shores.
Two other ships were, according to organizers, 'sabotaged by Israel.'
Meanwhile, Irish Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore formally asked Israel to conduct itself with "discretion and self-restraint" in stopping the Irish vessel and to "avoid potential casualties."