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A cover-up commission, toothless and powerless

Even if it wants to, the Tirkel Commission can't probe the real issues and the international friends of Dore Gold won’t bite. Gush Shalom prepares appeal to the Supreme Court.

The Gush Shalom movement intends to petition the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, challenging the validity of the Netanyahu Government's decision to establish the Tirkel Commission which is supposed to probe the lethal raid on the Gaza Flotilla two weeks ago. The commission's terms of reference exclude in advance all the main points which should be investigated.

It is no coincidence that the government refrained from taking the judicial highway which Israeli law makes available for exactly such cases: appointing a truly independent Commission of Inquiry whose members are appointed by the President of the Supreme Court and which is free of governmental interference. Such a commission may have uncovered facts, or come to conclusions, which would have proven uncomfortable to the government. Such a danger does not exist with the tame commission with which Netanyahu and his ministers came up.

The Tirkel Commission's terms of reference do not include looking into the decision-making process which led to bloodshed on the high seas, to the killing of nine people whose purpose had been to reach Gaza rather than clash with Israeli soldiers, to blackening Israel's image throughout the world and to the complete shattering of the alliance with Turkey which had been a cornerstone of Israeli foreign policy since the days of Ben Gurion. It is guaranteed in advance that those responsible for all this will not be touched, since the commission is not at all empowered to look into their doings.

Nor will the commission be able to look seriously into what actually happened on board the boats during these fateful moments. The commission is specifically and explicitly excluded from calling any soldier or officer to testify. It must place a blind trust in the army's own investigation of its own doings, which is carried on secretly and whose pre-selected results will be presented to the commission. And it is highly unlikely that the commission would hear and seriously consider the eye-witness testimonies of the boat's Turkish, European and American passengers, whom the State of Israel already branded as "terrorists".

It is clear in advance that the Tirkel Commission would not conduct the investigation which needs to be undertaken. The commission was established primarily as a desperate attempt to placate international public opinion, but it is very difficult to believe that this goal would be achieved, or that a report clearing the government of Israel from all blame and fault would gain much credibility in the world.

To get a semblance of international respectability, two international observers were attached to the commission. It should be noted that one of them - David Trimble, Protestant Unionist leader from North Ireland – expressed his allegiance just two weeks ago by joining a "Friends of Israel" group established by Netanyahu loyalist Dore Gold. In addition, Trimble is a veteran member of the Henry Jackson Society, an international organization linked with the American "neo conservative" circles and which advocates the "spreading of democracy" by way of military incursions and invasions. At Trimble's side, this society's membership includes such people as Richard Perle, who under the Bush Administration was among the main initiators of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, as well as William Kristol who is the main neo-conservative ideologue.

In short, it is unlikely that the "kosher certificate" provided by such "international observers" to the commission would greatly enhance the credibility given to its conclusions.

Contact: Adam Keller 054-2340749