Palmer Panel soft on Israel’s flotilla raid

It was seen as a feather in New Zealand’s cap when former Prime Minister Sir Geoffrey Palmer was appointed to head the UN Secretary-General’s Panel of Inquiry into the Israeli attack on a flotilla bringing aid to Gaza in May 2010.

Unfortunately, the resultant report, released this month, is far from adequate. It supports the Israeli view that the aid flotilla should never had taken place – calling it ‘reckless’ – and justifies the Israeli raid, with a qualification that the way the boarding took place was “excessive and unreasonable”. Israel is not even asked to apologise, only to issue “an appropriate statement of regret”.

Amazingly the Panel decided that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was legal and only about stopping gun runners. It conveniently ignored evidence that the blockade is primarily economic, aimed at collectively punishing the people of Gaza for continuing to support Hamas. Turkey disagrees with this finding and is going to the International Court of Justice to get a judgement on the legal status of the blockade.

The Panel report is a big step backwards from an earlier UN report, by the Human Rights Council, which found the Israeli commando action “betrayed an unacceptable level of brutality” and those responsible could be prosecuted. It also declared the blockade unlawful. Unlike the Palmer Panel, which simply relied on existing documentation, the HRC investigating body actually interviewed more than 100 witnesses to the raid.

6 Comments Posted

  1. The public has the right to know which (if any!) of the survivors of the attack on the Mavi Marmara were interviewed. (recommended reading: Midnight on the Mavi Marmara)

  2. Meanwhile many Americans commemorate the 25th anniversary; attack on the USS Liberty – Israeli Warplanes killed and maimed over 200 US Sailors – and they are good friends????
    Wally World!

  3. Israel’s relations with Turkey which it has permanently damaged by its inexplicably inept decision to kill nine Turkish nationals on the Mavi Marmara for no apparent reason – will probably be seen as the single most unintelligent act of Netanyahu’s government.

  4. One of the other members of Palmer’s panel was former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe. Uribe is infamous for his links to right wing paramilitaries and drug barons in Colombia. Under his rule (2002-2010)the Colombian armed forces and right wing paramilitaries engaged in mass state terror against members of opposition political parties, trade unionists and human rights activists. There were more than 3000 extrajudical killings by the armed forces alone, not counting the many murders committed by paramilitary groups and private armies controlled by drug barons.

    I am not sure what the UN was thinking when they appointed this later day Pinochet to be on this panel.

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