Saturday, 5 June 2010

Benjamin Netanyahu resists demand for inquiry

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is resisting demands to allow international experts participate in an inquiry into the lethal Gaza flotilla raid.

His government rejected outright calls for an international investigation, with officials saying they were "hypocritical efforts to hold Israel to a different standard than other nations".

The White House, in repeated calls to Mr Netanyahu, proposed a compromise, with at least one American observer participating in an internal Israeli inquiry. The administration hoped that might appease the international community and bolster the inquiry's credibility.

It cited the assistance provided by Britain and America to the South Korean inquiry which confirmed a warship had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo.

The Israeli foreign minister, Avidgor Lieberman, said he favoured the proposal, saying Israel had nothing to hide.

"We have no need to fear any commission of inquiry," Mr Lieberman said. "I told the prime minister that we should create a commission of inquiry that is open and transparent."

But Mr Netanyahu, who has rejected all calls for compromise over the incident, is said to have opposed the idea, under the advice of Ehud Barak, his defence minister.

"It is our standard practice after military operations, especially operations in which there have been fatalities, to conduct a prompt, professional, transparent and objective investigation in accordance with the highest international standards," said Mark Regev, a spokesman for the prime minister.

Mr Netanyahu and Mr Barak were the central figures in the decision to go ahead with the seizure of the aid ships.

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