Israel names former official to UN flotilla panel


Jerusalem: A former official of the Israeli foreign ministry has been chosen to represent his country on a UN panel investigating the deadly Israeli raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in May, local media reported Saturday.

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Yosef Ciechanover, 77, will be one of four people on the panel, which is tasked with fully investigating the May incident off the coast of the Gaza Strip, which left nine Turkish activists dead.

Ciechanover had previously participated in the 1997 investigation of the failed assassination attempt on top Hamas official Khaled Mashaal.

The probe ended absolving Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of any responsibility even though he had given the green light to the Mossad operation.

Netanyahu, now serving his second term as prime minister, picked Ciechanover in consultation with Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Defence Minister Ehud Barak, the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot reported.

The UN panel is headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and outgoing President Alvaro Uribe of Colombia, who will co-chair the investigation. A Turkish official will also join Ciechanover on the panel.

The panel, which is to deliver its first progress report by mid-September, is undertaking one of two UN investigations into the flotilla raid.

The UN Human Rights Council has also appointed a three-member “independent international fact-finding mission” to examine whether the raid violated international law.