The much anticipated UN report on the raid on the Gaza-bound flotilla raid was officially released today. You may recall the raid left left 8 Turks and one Turkish-American shot dead by Israeli Defense Forces and caused a huge international outcry. Ban Ki Moon appointed a fact-finding mission to assess what happened, and their report became public this morning (though it was leaked to the New York Times yesterday.)
The investigating panel included four people: The former prime minister of New Zealand, the former prime minister of Colombia and a representative from both Israel and Turkey. Their top-line conclusions where that 1) That the IDF’s use of force was “excessive and unreasonable.” 2) That Israel’s blockade of Gaza is both legal and a legitimate response to the threat of violence emanating from Gaza.
The panel issued a set of recommendations for both Turkey and Israel with which both seem to find fault. The Anti-Defamation League, though, thought more highly of the report, calling it “a generally balanced assessment.” That itself is fairly newsworthy.
It is encouraging to see that a U.N. panel chaired and co-chaired by experienced and thoughtful international leaders can conduct an investigation involving Israel and produce a report that presents a generally balanced assessment of the facts, circumstances and obligations of all the participants in the flotilla incident.
While neither Israel nor Turkey is likely to be completely satisfied with the report, we hope Turkey will reconsider its threats to find ways to punish Israel and instead heed the panel’s recommendation to “resume full diplomatic relations, repairing their relationship in the interests of stability in the Middle East and international peace and security.
It’s worth noting what did not happen. Because this became a “report” and not was never debated as a “resolution” at the Security Council, the USA was never put in the unenviable position of having to issue a veto in defense of Israel. That itself is a bit of a victory for US diplomacy at the UN. Of course, now Washington will have to try and mend ties between two important regional allies.