The Israeli ambassador to the US rejected the idea of an international inquiry into the Israeli raid on several ships bound for the blockaded Gaza Strip [BBC backgrounder], during an appearance on FOX News Sunday [transcript; video]. The proposal, put forth by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website], would have established a panel comprised of representatives from Israel, Turkey, and other unnamed countries. The panel was to be chaired by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer [official profile], who is considered an expert on maritime law. In announcing the rejection, Ambassador Michael Oren [official profile] explained:
Israel is a democracy. Israel has the ability and the right to investigate itself, not to be investigated by any international board. I don't think the United States would want an international inquiry into its military activities in Afghanistan, for example. ... We are rejecting the idea of international commission and we're discussing with the Obama administration the way in which our inquiry will take place, but the notion of an international commission coming along and judging Israel's right to defend itself, that's not admissible. ... At the end of the day, Israel has the right, the duty as a democracy to investigate any military activity.Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu [official website] was reported to have expressed reservations [Haaretz report] regarding an international inquiry due to the precedent it would set. The establishment of an international inquiry is one of three requirements that the Turkish government has set [Hurriyet report] on the restoration of normal diplomatic ties with Israel. The others are a public apology and an end to the Gaza blockade.
The UN Human Rights Council [official website] on Wednesday condemned [JURIST report] Israel's raid on the ships and initiated an independent investigation into possible violations of international law. The resolution was adopted by a vote of 32 to 3 with 9 abstentions and authorizes the president of the council to appoint members to the panel conducting the investigation. The US government indicated Tuesday that it was opposed to the resolution [press release], but urged the Israeli government to conduct a transparent investigation. Also Tuesday, the UN Security Council [official website] called [JURIST report] for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation" into the raid. The Security Council's statement came one day after Ban and UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profiles] both condemned [statement text] the Israeli action and called for an independent inquiry [press release]. The Turkish ship on which the violence occurred [ABC report] was one of six organized [Guardian backgrounder] by the Free Gaza Movement [advocacy website] to carry protesters and humanitarian supplies to the isolated Palestinian enclave. The Gaza naval blockade began in 2007 after Hamas [CFR backgrounder] forcibly expelled [BBC report] their chief rival, Fatah [CFR backgrounder] from Gaza. In 2006, Hamas was elected [JURIST report] as the ruling party of the Palestinian Authority after unbroken rule by Fatah. In January 2008, then-UN High Commissioner on Human Rights Louise Arbour condemned the blockade [JURIST report], describing it as collective punishment.