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Published: Tuesday, 6/22/2010

Israel's moves

Israel took a positive step last week to reduce the outrage over its recent raid on a flotilla headed to Gaza by easing the land blockade of the Palestinian territory. It should go a step further and truly internationalize the inquiry it will hold into the May 31 incident.

Although billed as an international investigation, Israel has outlined what is essentially an internal inquiry — with international observers — into the assault in the Mediterranean Sea on ships carrying aid to Gaza.

Nine people were killed, including an American of Turkish origin. The U.N. Security Council and the United States have called for an independent international investigation.

The incident happened in international waters 75 miles offshore, the dead were international, and the ships were internationally owned and flagged.

Israel's inquiry will be led by a former Israeli high-court justice and will include a retired Israel Defense Force general and an Israeli international law professor.

It will also have two international observers, retired Northern Irish politician David Trimble and a Canadian former judge advocate general.

The group will have access to Israeli political officials but not to military personnel who part of the raid.

The conclusions of the inquiry will be eagerly awaited, but the international community is not likely to be convinced of the commission's credibility.

It is especially unlikely that Turkey, which supported the ships' mission and which lost lives in the affair, will put stock in the inquiry's findings, further crippling what had been good Israeli-Turkish relations.

This good news that Israel will allow construction materials for civilian projects to enter the Gaza Strip, as part of other changes to the blockade, should be accompanied by a similar change of heart on the flotilla probe.

Israel should treat the inquiry as a preliminary look, then permit an independent international commission to use the findings as a starting point for a truly credible examination.

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