Tuesday, August 03, 2010

The Good, The Bad and the Uncertain

The good news: Israel has decided to cooperate with a UN Committee charged with looking into the flotilla affair. Maybe the Netanayahu government learned from the Goldstone Committee that a report will be made in any case, it will receive wide coverage and credibility in any case, and it is better to cooperate and try to influence the report's findings than to stand haughtily to the side. Or maybe they decided it is too costly to burn all of Israel’s with Turkey - still a moderating voice in the Muslim world, and still the only country in the regions that Israel has normal relations with (or at least did until the it killed 9 Turkish citizen's in on the Mavi Marmara.)

The bad news: Netnayahu's decision is being furiously attacked by Israel's "moderate" opposition. Kadima head Tizpi Livni is quoted as saying: "The IDF has a chief of staff, not a secretary general. I am opposed to a UN inquiry that will involve the IDF, its soldiers and its commanders." She might have a point when she also accuses the government of giving in too late to the idea of a U.N. committee and doing so only after its own emasculated Turkel Committee had failed to convince the world that it would actually get to the truth. But to demand that, as a matter of principle, Israel not cooperate with the UN, is wrong headed. Israel needs to re-join the family of nations, not further isolate itself in a hole largely of its own making.

The uncertainty: Will Livni's prediction hold true? Will the U.N. committee really be able to question Israeli soldiers who participated in the raid, and will it be allowed to examine evidence held by Israel? If not this committee will also be viewed as a joke and only result in more scorn being heaped on Israel for a cover-up. On the otherhand if Israel fully cooperates, it may buy itself some good will, even if it is at the expense of admitting some fault. Ironically, if the UN committee is allowed to question witnesses and examine evidence, it will have been given more powers and more access than the government’s own Turkel Committee. So before we get to excited about all this one way or the other, we will have to see just what level of access the UN committee is given.


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