When Israeli PM established the internal and powerless commission under retired High Court judge Jacob Turkel to investigate some aspects of the Mavi Marmara raid, he did so only as a way to get President Obama and other western leaders off his back. Those leaders have been under continuing pressure from NATO member Turkey to support the establishment of a robust international commission to investigate the raid, in which Israeli naval commandos killed one American citizen and eight citizens of Turkey.
Obama went along with Netanyahu’s plan that the three-member Turkel Commission should have no teeth, no basis in Israeli legislation regarding such matters, no sub-poena powers, etc. He also went along with the idea that the ‘international’ component of the commission be confined to two observers, one from Britain and one from Canada– both of them well-established partisans of Israel.
Well, Obama went along with it all. But Turkel himself has not; and his demands to be given much more sweeping powers have made the commission into much more of an embarrassment than an asset for Netanyahu as he prepares for his upcoming visit to Washington.
Amos Harel wrote in Haaretz today that,
- The demands of retired justice Jacob Turkel, who is heading the civilian committee investigating the raid, roused some concern from the prime minister and defense minister. Both men agreed to accept most of Turkel’s demands, yet they denied his committee the right to question soldiers and officers, with the exception of IDF chief Ashkenazi and, perhaps, Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Avichai Mendelblit.
How, I wonder, will former law professor and steadfast defender of the concept of civilian control over the military Barack Obama, refer to the Turkel Commission when he meets with Netanyahu next week? Let’s see.
It would also, of course, be helpful if the representatives of the U.S. media who get a chance to question Netanyahu during his visit remember to ask him about the toothlessness of this commission and how he suggests that Israel can make things right with NATO member Turkey over the deadly flotilla raid…