New York, NY, September 1, 2011 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) welcomed a United Nations report on the 2010 Gaza flotilla incident, calling the findings "a generally balanced assessment of a completely avoidable confrontation." The League urged Turkey to follow through on the report's recommendation to resume full diplomatic relations with Israel.
The "Report of the Secretary-General's Panel of Inquiry on the 31 May 2010 Flotilla Incident" was made available today by The New York Times, prior to its formal public release by Secretary-General Ban ki-Moon.
In the main conclusions of the report, the panel noted Israel's naval blockade complied with international law and the flotilla was a "dangerous and reckless act," while also finding significant fault with the manner in which the Israeli forces intercepted the flotilla vessels.
Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director, issued the following statement:
It is encouraging to see that a U.N. panel chaired and co-chaired by experienced and thoughtful international leaders can conduct an investigation involving Israel and produce a report that presents a generally balanced assessment of the facts, circumstances and obligations of all the participants in the flotilla incident.
While neither Israel nor Turkey is likely to be completely satisfied with the report, we hope Turkey will reconsider its threats to find ways to punish Israel and instead heed the panel's recommendation to "resume full diplomatic relations, repairing their relationship in the interests of stability in the Middle East and international peace and security."
The recent successful diplomatic effort by Israel to avoid a repeat of the tragic Mavi Marmara incident by enlisting support from other countries to prevent a second flotilla demonstrates that Israel, Turkey and many other countries have learned and implemented the lessons from the tragic incident. The fact that a second flotilla was averted simply reinforces the belief that the events of May 2010, which resulted in the tragic loss of life and injuries to passengers on the Turkish ship and serious injury to IDF personnel, were a completely avoidable confrontation.
The panel was chaired by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and co-chaired by Alvaro Uribe, former President of Colombia, and also included Suleyman Ozdem Sanberk, representing Turkey, and Joseph Ciechanover, representing Israel. The report included separate statements from the Israeli and Turkish representatives.
In his statement, Mr. Ciechanover joined the chairman and vice chairman in adopting the report. But Mr. Chiechanover disagreed with the conclusion that the IDF acted in an "excessive and unreasonable" way by deciding to board the Mavi Marmara.
In contrast, Mr. Sanberk rejected every finding and recommendation positive toward Israel, and all those negative toward Turkey or the organizers of the flotilla. Mr. Sanberk did not reject the panel's recommendations for steps Israel and Turkey should take to repair the bilateral relationship between the two countries.