In May, 1948, just after Israel declared itself a state, an American ship, the Marine Carp, steamed into the Mediterranean. Among its passengers were American Jews carrying American passports who were returning to their homes in Israel. The ship docked in Beirut. It’s next stop was Haifa. However, the Lebanese authorities refused to permit the Jewish men from continuing their journey to Palestine (the Jewish women were permitted to leave). The men were shipped to an internment camp in the Balbeck and returned to the U.S. four weeks later.
Eventually, in 1949, Israel came up with an agreement with Lebanon to govern relations between them. Among the protocols which the chief of the Israeli delegation, Shabtai Rosenne, inserted into the document was the agreement that any harm to, or interference with maritime transportation was an act of war.
In the UN ceasefire agreement negotiated with Ralph Bunche, Rosenne ensured there was a provision that prohibited interference with cargo and passenger ships bound for Israel, including Israeli vessels. Any blockage of such commerce would be considered a hostile act.
This is the same Shabtai Rosenne who is now a member of the Tirkel Commission investigating the Gaza flotilla attack.
Now, what was that attack and the entire Gaza blockade but an attempt to interfere with maritime traffic to Gaza? As such it is clearly a hostile act against the Palestinian people and a violation of the very code of international law to which Rosenne devoted his life. I suppose Israel might argue that Rosenne in 1949 was negotiating on behalf of a sovereign country and Gaza is not such an entity. But if it isn’t, this is wholly Israel’s fault. So I still find this a telling contradiction.
By the way, Tom Segev, author of this article, makes no bones about the fact that Rosenne will magically find a way to justify the Mavi Marmara attack. But he will do so against the backdrop of his previous record, which directly contradict the position he will embrace in the commission report.