Israel has agreed to cooperate with the United Nations Headquarters Board of Inquiry to investigate the damage to UNRWA facilities during Operation Protective Edge this past summer.
The UN Headquarters Board, established by Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, was announced by Ban last week as an “internal and independent” board that would look into the damage to UN installations.
Ban added that the board would also investigate the multiples cases in which weapons were found at UN facilities.
The board “will review and investigate a number of specific incidents in which death or injuries occurred at, and/or damage was done to United Nations premises,” the UN said in a statement.
“The Board will also review and investigate incidents in which weapons were found to be present on United Nations premises. The Secretary-General expects that the Board will enjoy the full cooperation of all parties concerned.”
Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, submitted a letter to Ban on Tuesday agreeing to participate in the investigation, a senior Foreign Ministry official said. He added that Israel had finite conditions for its cooperation, though he declined to elaborate on what those conditions were.
A similar UN headquarters board of inquiry, with the cooperation of Israel, investigated Operation Cast Lead - the war in Gaza which took place in the winter of 2008-2009. That board harshly criticized Israel for some of its actions during the war.
The demand for concrete conditions for this investigation is presumably a result of Israel's disappointment with the findings of that first inquiry.
A board of inquiry established by the UN secretary-general is generally viewed as more reliable and impartial than investigative committees established by such bodies as the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
Of course, the UNHRC has also set up its own commission to investigate alleged "Israeli war crimes" during the latest Gaza operation. The commission, led by Canadian lawyer William Schabas, has been denounced as a "kangaroo court" by Israel, after Schabas's own personal anti-Israel bias was revealed.
Over a week ago, Israel announced it would not cooperate with the UNHRC investigation, calling it "tendentious and one-sided."
"Since the Schabas commission is not an inquiry but a commission that gives its conclusions in advance, Israel will not cooperate with the UN Commission on Human Rights over the last conflict with Hamas," foreign ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said in a statement.
The decision had been taken because of the "obsessive hostility against Israel of this commission and the words of its president against Israel and its leaders," he added.
Israel also refused entry to three members of the Schabas commission who were on their way from Jordan to Gaza.