I’m traveling. No time to blog properly. In the meantime, here is an important-looking item:
Swedish FM Carl Bildt says Israel needs the international community to help it get out of the mess it brought upon itself with the flotilla raid. He also says he’s pretty sure the raid was illegal and that Sweden is a strong believer in upholding international law.
This article in TZ has details on the proposal UN Sec-Gen Ban delivered to Turkey and Israel on Saturday. It would be for a five-member investigation commission headed by former New Zealand PM Geoffrey Palmer, who’s an expert in maritime law. Ban himself would choose the other two members, one of whom would almost certainly be American. Israeli PM Netanyahu has turned the proposal down flat.
Last week, the Obama administration’s position was that it wanted to have the Israelis invesitage themselves (!)– but also to have some international presence, which they suggested should be American, involved in the investigation as well.
I cannot imagine what they were thinking! Such an investigation would be an absolute tar-baby for the U.S., because it would have to play some role in making the determination whether to accept Israel’s or Turkey’s view of events.
Bildt’s argument, that the international community should run the investigation, is a far more powerful one.
Turkey’s government is also, importantly, urging that the need for a thorough investigation should not be used as an excuse for delay and for sweeping the matter under the rug. They have urged– and I think Ban has agreed– that the investigation should be completed within two months.
International fallout from the flotilla massacre continues to rock a number of international forums. Right now, Turkey is hosting a summit meeting of the 20-member Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia (CICA), of which Israel and various significant big Asian powers are members. Syria’s Pres. Bashar al-Asad is there as an invited guest. Israel has sent only a low-level consular official, fearing a torrent of post-raid criticism if any significant national leader took part.
On Wednesday, Arab League Foreign Ministers will be in İstanbul for the Turkish-Arab Cooperation Forum. The Organization of the Islamic Conference has already been holding a meeting in Saudi Arabia, at which the flotilla raid has been, not surprisingly, a huge issue.
Carl Bildt, in his interview with TZ, said the EU would consider tackling the issue further in its upcoming summit meeting, scheduled for Brussels on June 17. The report also noted this:
- Bildt said this is an international diplomatic crisis, not an issue between two or three countries. “We are still in crisis mode and interviewing our citizens who participated in this aid convoy,” he said, adding that his government is asking for the return of the personal belongings of its citizens seized by the Israeli police. Bildt said 11 Swedish citizens, including a member of parliament from the Green Party, joined the aid flotilla.
I think he’s right. This is certainly not just an issue between Turkey and Israel.