U.S. Denies Pushing for Gaza Flotilla Probe at UN

Rebuttal follows Weekly Standard report claiming White House promised foreign governments support for international inquiry.

Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya
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Natasha Mozgovaya
Natasha Mozgovaya

The United States on Friday denied reports that the White House would back a United Nations investigation into Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla two weeks ago.

Activists hold down an Israeli commando on the Gaza-bound ship Mavi Marmara, May 31 2010Credit: Reuters

"We are not aware of any resolution that will be introduced at the UN next week," State Department Spokesman Philip Crowley said at a White House press conference. "We are in discussions with the UN, and I think UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is evaluating the situation."

"We support an Israeli led investigation and we are open to the potential ways in which the international community can participate in it," Crowley said.

Nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed when Israeli commandos met with stiffer than expected resistance as they intercepted a six-boat convoy trying to break Israel's maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Crowley said: "The investigation has to be impartial so it can been seen as credible. International participation in some fashion can enhance the result, the outcome and the support for the investigation."

According to a report by The Weekly Standard, an American journal, senior White House officials had told foreign governments that U.S President Barack Obama's administration would back a UN push for an independent committee to probe the Gaza raid.

The report claimed that the White House had shrugged off concerns that an international probe would unfairly single out Israel.

According to the Standard, U.S. officials said they had no fear the investigation would be biased - even though it would focus only on the behavior of the Israeli Defense Forces, leaving out any part by Turkey or Hamas in events that led to the fatal confrontation aboard the Turkish-flagged 'Mavi Marmara'.

Meanwhile, Israel and the U.S. agreed Thursday on the nature of an Israeli inquiry into the flotilla interception.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to make an announcement on committee in the coming days, also giving details of its make-up and powers.

On Wednesday Channel 2 reported that the committee would be headed by a retired Supreme Court justice, saying the Prime Minister's Office had approached former Justice Yaakov Tirkel for the task.

Talks with the U.S. on forming the panel have been handled by the prime minister himself and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Their main U.S. contact has been Vice President Joe Biden.

The United States has proposed a committee similar to the one that investigated the recent sinking of a South Korean ship by the North Koreans.



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