This is getting damned strange. The Obama administration and Israel have been haggling for a week over the nature and composition of the supposedly independent commission which will investigate the Gaza flotilla disaster. We hear that the U.S. demanded that someone of judicial “stature” like a Supreme Court justice be appointed as chair. Bibi finally acquiesced and appointed Justice Yaakov Tirkel. But there’s one problem. The incoming panel chair doesn’t seem to believe in the panel. Here is how Haaretz characterized the judge’s remarks in a searing editorial attacking the commission:
Netanyahu’s panel will have no powers, not even those of a government probe, and its proposed chairman does not believe in such a panel. In an interview to Army Radio, Tirkel said there is no choice but to establish a state committee of inquiry. He opposed bringing in foreign observers and made clear that he is not a devotee of drawing conclusions about individuals and dismissing those responsible for failures. When a Haaretz reporter confronted Tirkel about these remarks, the former justice evaded the question saying, “I don’t remember what I said.“
One of the two international “observers” David Trimble, is a co-founder of the newly launched Israel advocacy group, Friends of Israel, joining John Bolton, Dore Gold, and Spain’s former right-wing prime minister, Jose Aznar. At its founding, the group released this statement:
This initiative “is promoted by people who are not Jewish and whose motivations are based on the deep conviction that Israel is part of the Western world. In fact, today Israel is a fundamental actor for the future of the West. Although the peace process is important, the members of Friends of Israel Initiative are more concerned about the onslaught of radical Islamism as well as the specter of a nuclear Iran since these are threats affecting not only Israel, but the entire world.
…The sponsors of this Initiative believe there is no West without Israel.”
Ironically, Friends of Israel announced its inauguration the day after the Mavi Marmara massacre. Can anyone possibly believe that David Trimble is a disinterested party capable of sitting in judgment (even as an observer) of the IDF’s behavior in this matter?
Also joining the Israeli investigative panel will be an IDF major general. Does anyone detect a slight conflict of interest here? How can a senior officer of the IDF sit in judgment of the IDF in what is supposed to be an “independent” panel?
Haaretz’ editorial also called the flotilla investigative body a “farce:”
The government’s efforts to avoid a thorough and credible investigation of the flotilla affair seem more and more like a farce. The conclusions of an ostensible probe are intended to justify retroactively the decision to blockade Gaza, to forcibly stop the Turkish aid flotilla in international waters and to use deadly force on the deck of the Mavi Marmara.
To make the costume seem credible, the Prime Minister’s Bureau asked a retired Supreme Court justice, Yaakov Tirkel, to chair the committee. Alongside him will sit foreign observers in order to legitimize the conclusions in international public opinion.
…As far as Netanyahu is concerned, it will be enough for television channels to broadcast footage of dark-suited jurists, and politicians addressing them, to present the semblance of an “examination.”
The Obama administration, ever willing to throw out a lifeline to Israel’s right-wing government, welcomed the fraudulent panel:
…The White House press secretary issued a statement hailing the Israeli announcement as an “important step forward.” The statement added that “the structure and terms of reference of Israel’s proposed independent public commission can meet the standard of a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation,” as sought by the United Nations Security Council.
“But,” the White House cautioned, “we will not prejudge the process or its outcome and will await the conduct and findings of the investigation before drawing further conclusions.”
He better give himself that “out,” as this panel will satisfy no one but the B-boys, Bibi and (possibly) Barack.