Israel announces creation of Gaza flotilla inquiry committee

Hoping to stave off calls for an international probe, Israel on Sunday announced the creation of a special inquiry committee, including two international observers, to look into its navy’s deadly high-seas raid of a Gaza-bound aid flotilla in which nine activists died.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is hoping the Israeli-led process, set up in close coordination with the U.S., will put an end to efforts in the United Nations to set up an international inquiry, which many Israelis fear would be biased.

The White House called the new commission an “important step forward.” But elsewhere — both in Israel and around the world — some said the committee lacked sufficient credibility and investigative powers.

The body will be led by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel. It will include two Israeli experts in international law and two foreign observers, David Trimble, a Nobel Peace laureate from Northern Ireland, and Brig. Gen. Ken Watkin, a former military judge from Canada.

The body is expected to be formally approved by Israel’s Cabinet on Monday.