When the UN Secretary General announced on August 2, 2010 that a Panel of Inquiry had been established to investigate the Israeli attacks of May 31, 2010 on the Mavi Marmara and five other ships carrying humanitarian aid to the beleaguered people of Gaza, there was widespread hope that international law would be vindicated, the Israelis would finally be held accountable, and the diplomatic rift between Turkey and Israel would be sensibly restored to normalcy. With the release of the Palmer Report these hopes have all but vanished as the document fails to address the central international law issues in a credible and satisfactory manner. Turkey, not surprisingly, has harshly responded that it is not prepared to live with the central finding of this detailed report that reached the entirely unacceptable conclusions that the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is lawful and, furthermore, that it could be legally enforced by Israel against a humanitarian mission in international waters.
Disappointment at the United Nations: The Failure of the Palmer Report
After the Israeli attack of May 31, 2010 on the Freedom Flotilla led by the Mavi Marmara, the UN Secretary General appointed a panel of inquiry to resolve the sharp legal dispute that had emerged between Turkey and Israel. The panel was chaired by Jeffrey Palmer, former Prime Minister of New Zealand, and it was hoped that the report issued would clear the diplomatic air between the two countries. In fact, the publication of the report in May had exactly the opposite effect, enraging Turkey, straining diplomatic relations still further. Turkey seemed fully justified in its response, given the departures from appropriate interpretations of international law. This commentary critically examines the process from the formation of the Palmer panel through the release of its conclusions, looking at the legal and political implications.
The UN Secretariat is responsible for establishing such a panel of inquiry that seems to have been flawed at its inception.
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