Lord Trimble to oversee Israel's flotilla inquiry

Lord Trimble will oversee the inquiry

Lord Trimble will oversee the inquiry

Israel has said there will be an independent public inquiry into the clashes on the Gaza-bound flotilla in May.

Lord Trimble, who as David Trimble was First Minister of Northern Ireland, will be one of two foreign observers overseeing the commission, which will look into the events on board the Mavi Marmara ship. The other will be Ken Watkin, a retired Canadian general.

The committee will be headed by a retired Supreme Court justice, Jacob Turkel, and will also include an Israel Prize laureate, Shabtai Rosen, and Amos Horev, the former president of the Israeli technology institute, the Technion.

The panel will consider the legality of the Israeli navy’s actions after nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed during the fighting, as well as studying the links between the flotilla’s organisers and the Turkish group IHH, which is believed to have links to terrorism.

They will also look at the motivations of the activists on board the flotilla and at whether Israel’s security concerns mean its blockade of Gaza is internationally justified.

The White House praised Israel’s decision to conduct an inquiry and called for it to take place “promptly”.

"Israel has a military justice system that meets international standards and is capable of conducting a serious and credible investigation.”

“We expect that, upon completion, its findings will be presented publicly and will be presented to the international community."

Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, and Defence Minister Ehud Barak are likely to be among cabinet members called to testify before the committee.

Lord Trimble, a Conservative life peer who jointly won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1998, has previously called on Israel to stand firm on the boycott of Hamas.

He said his experience in the Northern Ireland peace process had taught him that “over-generous flexibility is like giving sweets to a spoilt child in the hope that it will improve his behaviour.

“It usually results in worse behaviour, as it did in Northern Ireland.”

Last updated: 10:35am, June 14 2010