Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council

Palmer Report will justify legality of the Gaza blockade

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Although the UN ‘Palmer report' on last year's Mavi Marmara raid was postponed until July 27 to enable talks to continue between Israel and Turkey, it is expected to justify Israel's blockade of the Gaza strip.

The UN investigative committee was headed by former Prime Minister of New Zealand Sir Geoffrey Palmer who is an expert on maritime law and was established by the UN to examine the Israeli raid on the Turkish ship Mavi Marmara in May 2010.

The Jerusalem Post reported on July 7, that Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, commenting on drafts of the Palmer report, indicated the report would rule mostly in favour of Israel. Stenitz stated: "From what we understand, the report justifies the [Gaza] blockade. It says the blockade is legitimate, that Israel took legitimate steps."

Michael Ross writes in the National Post that it is expected that the Palmer report will:

  • find that Israel's blockade of Gaza is legal under international law;
  •  criticise Turkey for not doing enough to prevent the flotilla from setting sail and for also providing a poor investigation into the events of May 2010;
  •  not demand that Israel apologise to Turkey or pay any kind of reparation;
  •  praise Israel's official investigation - the Turkel Committee's report as being conducted in a professional and independent manner;
  •  provide minor criticisms of Israel including that: while international law allows Israel to intercept ships far from its territorial waters, the navy would have been better off waiting until the flotilla was closer to the blockade line some 20 miles off shore; and Israel used excessive force, while not diminishing Israel's right to self-defence.

Michael Ross writes:

"In short, the UN report vindicates Israel and authoritatively rebuts the many false and contradictory versions of events spread by last year's flotilla activists."

These reports stand in contrast to a selective AFP report in the Canberra Times on July 8, entitled "UN report critical of deadly Israel boat raid". The article selectively focuses on Israeli use of force on the Mavi Marmara quoting a Turkish source that stated that the UN report "accused Israel of using force prematurely and causing ‘unacceptable' deaths in its assault of a Gaza bound ship that killed nine Turks more than a year ago".

The article only briefly mentions that the UN report did not find the Gaza blockade illegal. It merely states: "Turkey's refusal to sign off on the report stemmed from the fact that it did not say Israel's blockade of Gaza was illegal."

The importance of the Palmer report's recognition that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is legal under international law should not be minimised - it is a significant blow to the Gaza flotillas and flytillas increasingly irrelevant propaganda stunts.



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