UN condemns Israeli attack on Gaza ship, calls for probe

UNSC condemned acts leading to the deaths of civilians during Monday's Israeli operation against an aid flotilla heading for Gaza.

 UN condemns Israeli attack on Gaza ship, calls for probe

The U.N. Security Council called Tuesday for an impartial investigation into the Israeli attack against a flotilla carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, and the immediate release of all civilians.

After an emergency meeting and marathon negotiations that lasted nearly 12 hours, the 15 council members finally agreed on a presidential statement. It was weaker than what was initially demanded by the Palestinians, Arabs and Turkey because of objections by the United States.

The Islamic nations had called for condemnation of Monday's attack by Israeli forces on the flotilla "in the strongest terms" and "an independent international investigation."

But the presidential statement that was finally agreed to and read at a formal council meeting instead called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards." And it only condemned "those acts" that resulted in deaths, without naming Israel.

The long and difficult negotiations were conducted primarily by the United States with Turkey and Lebanon, which are both non-permanent council members.

The statement by the council president condemned "those acts which resulted in the loss of at least 10 civilians and many wounded" and requested the immediate release of all ships and civilians held by Israel.

"The Security Council took note of the statement of the U.N. Secretary General on the need to have a full investigation into the matter and it calls for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards," the statement said.

New attack?

Earlier, during a 90-minute public meeting of the council, many speakers criticized Israel's attack and said it was time for Israel's three-year-old blockade of Gaza to be lifted.

"This is tantamount to banditry and piracy," Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told the council. "It is murder conducted by a state."

Most of those who Israel killed on the ship are Turks, according to one senior Israeli officer.

The news came as an Israeli defense official said it would continue to prevent aid ships from reaching Gaza, despite the bloody end to a dawn raid Monday that saw at least nine people killed.

"We will not let any ships reach Gaza and supply what has become a terrorist base threatening the heart of Israel," deputy defense minister Matan Vilnai told public radio.

Vilnai's remarks were made as organizers of the so-called Freedom Flotilla said they were preparing to send two more aid boats to Gaza.

"US attempt to water down UN probe"

After the presidential statement was read, both sides immediately disagreed on how the investigation would be conducted.

Mexico's U.N. Ambassador Claude Heller, who took over the council presidency from Lebanon at midnight, said "impartial" meant "independent" and that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has the responsibility to organize the investigation. He also said it was clear the condemnation referred to the "excessive force" by the Israeli military.

The Palestinians' Mansour said almost all the members of the Security Council support Heller's interpretation. He said the Palestinians and Arabs would press the secretary-general to pursue an independent investigation.

U.S. deputy ambassador Alejandro Wolff said Heller's interpretation is "not our understanding" of the wording regarding an investigation.

"The secretary-general called for a full investigation, and we believe the Israelis are capable of conducting a full investigation," he said. He added that as far as condemnation the United States did not want to "prejudge any outcomes, or prejudge any conclusions."

The presidential statement also "deeply regrets the loss of life and injuries" and requests the immediate release of the ships and civilians being held by Israel. It urges Israel to permit consular access and allow countries to retrieve their dead and wounded immediately.

The council also urged Israel "to ensure the delivery of humanitarian assistance from the convoy to its destination" and stressed that the situation in Gaza "is not sustainable."

Council members reiterated "their grave concern at the humanitarian situation in Gaza and stress the need for sustained and regular flow of goods and people to Gaza as well as unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance through Gaza."

Mansour said this was "the clearest statement by the Security Council on lifting the siege against the Gaza Strip."


Agencies

Last Mod: 01 Haziran 2010, 16:28
Add Comment