Joseph Ciechanover to Represent Israel at UN Gaza Flotilla Probe

Panel led by ex-New Zealand PM Geoffrey Palmer to probe deaths of 9 Turkish activists during clash with Israel Navy commandos on May 31.

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Barak Ravid
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Barak Ravid

Joseph Ciechanover, former Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, was named Saturday as the Israeli representative to the United Nations review panel investigating Israel's deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship on May 31.

Second from right, Joseph Ciechanover. Credit: Archive

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced Saturday that the Turkish Turkish member of the panel will be Ozdem Sanberk, a diplomat who held senior positions in the Turkish Foreign Minister and the United Nations.

Earlier this week Israel agreed to take part in the inquiry commission formed to probe an Israel Defense Forces raid on a Turkish Gaza-bound flotilla following an announcement of the panel's formation by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

The committee, which will be led by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer, is due to begin work on August 10 and submit its first progress report by mid-September.

The panel will investigate the events of the Israel Navy's commando raid of a six-ship flotilla, which left nine Turkish pro-Palestinian activists dead. Israel had balked at the UN request in the past, but has faced international pressure to allow for an external probe into the matter.

Ciechanover, a recipient of the French Legion of Honor award as well as the Pentagon's Medal for Distinguished Service, has served in the past few years as President of Challenge Funds, Chairman of the Board of Israel Discount Bank and as a member of the Bank of Israel Advisory Committee.

He was also Head of Israel's Defense Mission to the United States and Canada, and General Counsel to the Israel Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Agriculture.

He was chosen after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defense Minister Ehud Barak met in Jerusalem on Friday to deliberate over which of the candidates was most suited for the position, a top government official said.

Last week, Deputy Prime Minister Dan Meridor said Israel hoped its decision to cooperate with a UN investigation will improve relations with its once close ally Turkey.

The choice to cooperate with the UN investigation, which was announced on Monday, is "primarily meant, to my knowledge, for Turkey and Israel to find a way to bring relations back to a better place," Meridor told Army Radio.

The May 31 storming of the Turkish-owned flotilla, which was trying to break Israel's blockade of Hamas-ruled Gaza, caused an international outcry after Israeli commandos killed eight Turks and one Turkish-American they said were violently resisting.

Turkey welcomed the establishment of the panel, comprised of two international members, one Turkish and one Israeli member, calling it "a right step in the right direction."



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