More Aid Ships Head for GazaSubmitted by Michael Nystrom on Tue, 06/01/2010 - 17:30
UNITED NATIONS (AP) -- The U.N. Security Council called early Tuesday for an "impartial" investigation of Israel's deadly commando raid on ships taking humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip and condemned the "acts" that resulted in the loss of at least nine lives.
After an emergency meeting and marathon negotiations that lasted nearly 12 hours, the 15 council members finally agreed on a presidential statement. It was weaker than what was initially demanded by the Palestinians, Arabs and Turkey because of objections by the United States, Israel's closest ally.
The Islamic nations had called for condemnation of Monday's attack by Israeli forces on the flotilla "in the strongest terms" and "an independent international investigation."
But the presidential statement that was finally agreed to and read at a formal council meeting instead called for "a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards." And it only condemned "those acts" that resulted in deaths, without naming Israel.
The long and difficult negotiations were conducted primarily by the United States with Turkey and Lebanon, which are both non-permanent council members.
Turkey, which had been a close Muslim ally of Israel, used some of the harshest language against the Jewish state for launching the raid against the flotilla, which included a Turkish ferry on which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed. Hundreds of activists - many of them Turkish - were taken from the ships to Israel.
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, whose country drafted the initial presidential statement, called the Israeli raid "banditry and piracy" on the high seas and "murder conducted by a state."
Palestinian U.N. observer Riyad Mansour called it a "war crime," and told an open Security Council meeting that "those fleets, one after the other, will be coming until the unethical blockade is put to an end and the suffering stops for our people."
Organizers of the six-ship Gaza aid flotilla stopped by the Israelis said they would be sending two more ships to challenge the blockade within the next few days.