The U.N. Security Council has called for an impartial and credible investigation into an Israeli commando raid on a ship carrying humanitarian aid and pro-Palestinian activists bound for the Gaza Strip. The raid, conducted in international waters, resulted in the deaths of at least nine activists.
After an emergency session convened on Monday afternoon, that wrapped up in the early hours of Tuesday morning, the council agreed to language condemning the acts that resulted in the deaths and injuries aboard the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara.
The council also called for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards. That language is a diplomatic twist on what Turkey and Arab states were demanding - an independent international investigation. This ambiguity left open interpretations of who would conduct the investigation - Israel or independent investigators possibly appointed by the United Nations.
U.S. Deputy U.N. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff says Washington's understanding is clear. "We are convinced and support an Israeli investigation, as I called for in my statement earlier. And, have every confidence that Israel can conduct a credible and impartial and transparent, prompt, investigation internally," said Wolff.
But Mexican Ambassador Claude Heller, who assumed the Security Council presidency at midnight when the month turned from May to June, had a different interpretation. He said, "Several of us, we have insisted, since the beginning, for an independent, credible and impartial investigation."
Heller says the U.N. secretary-general and the United Nations have a responsibility for determining who will carry out such an investigation.
The council statement also reemphasized the importance of implementing U.N. resolution 1860, which calls for the unimpeded provision and distribution of humanitarian assistance to Gaza's 1.5 million residents. The flow of aid has been severely hampered by Israel's three-year blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian Ambassador Riyad Mansour says Turkey, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority would have liked to see a stronger text, but that was impossible because of U.S. objections. Still, he says he was satisfied that the council spoke in a unified voice.
Earlier, in its open meeting, Israel's deputy U.N. ambassador told the council his government regretted the loss of lives, but he denounced the activists, saying they were not going to Gaza to deliver humanitarian aid, but to make a political statement, and that they used violence against the Israeli commandos who tried to intervene.
Turkey, which has been Israel's closest regional ally, recalled its ambassador to Tel Aviv. Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, who attended the Security Council meeting, had harsh words for Israel, saying its military's actions were "tantamount to banditry and piracy" and that its raid was "murder conducted by a state" that had "no justification whatsoever."