Backtracking from earlier position, Israel agrees to UN inquiry over flotilla raid
Israel has agreed to cooperate with an international inquiry into its deadly raid this May of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, as urged by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who yesterday announced that Turkey would take part in the probe. According to Ban, the four-member panel probing the incident will be chaired by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and include both an Israeli and a Turk. The panel will begin its work on August 10 and submit its first progress report by mid-September. Senior members of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Cabinet voted "to allow the panel access to material gathered" by two Israeli committees conducting separate probes into the May 31 incident in which eight Turkish citizens were killed, including one Turkish American. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Ban that his country would agree to the international inquiry during a recent trip to New York, according to a report by Israel Radio. Ban has been urging Israel to agree to a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards" that the UN Security Council called for on June 1 – a call supported by Turkey from the beginning. Ban said last month that Israel's own investigation into the flotilla raid "is important" but lacks "international credibility."