Many expected the Arab uprisings to strengthen official and popular Arab support for Palestinian self-determination, and, for a time, they did. Since then, internal strife, the return in several Arab states of the ancien regime, and an intensified regional Cold War have left the Palestinians isolated and vulnerable. But historical precedent as well as existing tendencies counsel against despair.
On May 31st, 2010, Israeli commandos killed nine passengers aboard a humanitarian flotilla destined for Gaza. Eight of the nine were Turkish citizens, while one was a dual U.S.-Turkish citizen. On August 2nd, 2010, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed a Panel of Inquiry (POI) to “examine and identify the facts, circumstances and context of the incident,” and to “consider and recommend ways of avoiding similar incidents in the future.” In September 2011, the POI’s final report was unofficially released. In a finding that shocked the international community, the report concluded that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza was legal. Moreover, the report vilified the passengers aboard the humanitarian flotilla because they sought to publicize the illegality and inhumanity of Israel’s blockade. A careful analysis of the POI report shows that it is probably the most mendacious and debased document ever issued under the aegis of the United Nations.