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UN investigation into Israeli attack will be meaningless if it is ignored

Tel Aviv must not be allowed to ignore the findings of the flotilla inquiry in the way it dismissed

After a 12-hour emergency meeting, the UN Security Council has issued a statement formally condemning Israel's assault today on a convoy of aid ships heading for Gaza.

It calls for an inquiry:

The Security Council took note of the statement of the UN Secretary General on the need to have a full investigation into the matter and it calls for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.

It is certainly true that the events must be unravelled, amid claims from the Israel Defence Force (IDF) that protesters attacked them first. But in and of itself, this is an inadequate response, unless there are guarantees that the findings of the report will have some impact.

Recent history demonstrates this. The UN inquiry into the assault on Gaza in 2009, headed by Sir Richard Goldstone, accused both the IDF and Hamas of war crimes, and recommended that both sides must investigate their conduct; with the allegations coming before the International Criminal Court if this was not done.

Predictably, Israel dismissed the report, claiming it was biased and methodologically flawed. "The Goldstone report is a field court-martial, and its findings were prewritten," said the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netenyahu. "This is a prize for terror."

The foreign minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was no less equivocal, saying: "The Goldstone Commission is a commission established with the aim of finding Israel guilty of crimes ahead of time."

And what have the ramifications of the investigation been? Several months after the final report was published in September 2009, a non-binding UN resolution was passed, urging that its suggestions be implemented. Since then, there's been nothing, and I wouldn't hold your breath.

It is an unfortunate fact that, when Israel has no answers, its default position is to attempt to undermine its critics as biased and anti-Israeli. This was true of Goldstone (a judge with an impeccable record of impartiality in high-level political cases -- and a practising Jew, who criticised the subsequent UN resolution for failing to hold Hamas to account). And it will almost certainly be true of whoever is chosen to lead this mission.

A UN investigation into this latest incident -- the killing of at least ten people in international waters -- will be meaningless if its findings are ignored in this way.

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Tags:Israel