UN names Turkish, Israeli representatives to aid flotilla inquiry commission
Veteran diplomat Ozdem Sanberk will represent the Turkish side on the new UN-led flotilla commission, the UN announced over the weekend. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also appointed a veteran Israeli diplomat to the panel investigating Israel's deadly May 31 commando raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, which is set to begin work tomorrow. Joseph Ciechanover, a former senior official at Israel's Foreign Ministry, will be the Israeli representative on the panel. Turkey's Sanberk previously held senior positions in both the Foreign Ministry and United Nations. "A valued diplomat, Mr. Sanberk's appointment from our country as a member of the panel is an indicator of the importance we place on the investigation being carried out in a speedy, impartial, trustworthy and transparent manner in line with international standards," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement over the weekend. Sanberk served as foreign undersecretary in 1991-1995, ambassador to the European Union in 1987-1991, and ambassador to London in 1995-2000. Former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer will chair the panel, with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe acting as vice chair. The committee expects to submit an initial progress report in mid-September. Israel's May 31 attack on an aid flotilla attempting to break through its blockade of the Gaza Strip resulted in the deaths of eight Turks and one Turkish American and sparked international outrage. The action led to a sharp deterioration in Israeli-Turkish relations and forced Israel to ease its blockade. UN officials said the panel will look at the circumstances of the raid and review the results of the Turkish and Israeli investigations, as well as consider ways to avoid similar incidents in the future.