France, Britain call for int'l probe, EU help on Gaza siege

The foreign ministers of France and Britain said an "international" inquiry was necessary to resolve the dispute over Israel's deadly raid on Gaza aid ships.

France, Britain call for int'l probe, EU help on Gaza siege

The foreign ministers of France and Britain said an "international" inquiry was necessary to resolve the dispute over Israel's deadly raid on Gaza aid ships, after talks late Sunday in the French capital.

"We think it is very important that there is a credible and transparent investigation... there should be an international presence at minimum" in the probe, said Foreign Secretary William Hague at a press conference with his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner.

Kouchner added that the international inquiry was needed because several countries are involved in the incident.

Israeli soldiers attacked a fleet of boats carrying 700 international activist and 10,000 tons of humanitarian aid heading to Gaza, killing 9 Turkish activists.

The ship was also carrying activists from Britain, Germany, Malaysia, Belgium, Ireland and elsewhere.

"EU help on Gaza siege"

France also proposed that the European Union could step in to help defuse the situation by checking the cargo on ships bound for the Gaza Strip as well as the Rafah crossing point into the Hamas-run Palestinian territory.

"We could very well check the cargo of ships heading to Gaza... We would be very willing to do it," said Kouchner of an EU role.

He noted that the EU had taken charge of the Rafah border crossing from Egypt to Gaza in the past.

"We could again propose that the European Union... control this crossing in a very strict manner," he said.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy also made an appeal in a phone call to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to accept a credible and impartial inquiry into the deadly raid, the French leader's office said.

Kouchner said France has said from the beginning that it is up to the secretary general of the United Nations to choose the form of the inquiry.

"We think that it is totally in the interests of our Israeli friends to have a wide inquiry, one that is definitely international" in scope, Kouchner said.

However, Israel refused on Sunday a proposal by U.N. Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon for an international investigation into its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship.

The U.N. chief had suggested establishing a panel that would be headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and include representatives from Turkey, Israel and the United States, an Israeli official said earlier in Jerusalem.

Agencies

Last Mod: 07 Haziran 2010, 15:48
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