Israel rejects UN call for inquiry into flotilla raid


Israel this evening rejected a proposal by UN secretary-general Ban ki-Moon for an international investigation into its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid ship and said it had the right to launch its own inquiry.

Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said any probe of the May 31th flotilla raid must be conducted by Israelis though it may include international observers.

"It has to be an Israeli committee," Mr Lieberman said on Army Radio. "There is no problem with high level, well known international observers serving as partners in the process."

Ban Ki-moon had proposed a multinational investigation of Israel's raid on the Mavi Marmara ship in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed.

He suggested establishing a panel that would be headed by former New Zealand prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and include representatives from Turkey - under whose flag the ship sailed - Israel and the United States, the official from prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.

Meanwhile, seven passengers and crew aboard the Irish-owned MV Rachel Corrie which was blocked from delivering relief supplies to Gaza yesterday have been deported from Israel.

The six Malaysians and a Cuban arrived in Amman today, having left Israel through the West Bank.

The five Irish citizens which were aboard the humanitarian vessel seized by the Israeli military are due to arrive into Dublin tomorrow morning, the Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign said.

The military intercepted the 1,200-tonne ship at sea close to the Gaza shore. No resistance was encountered and the Irish and Malaysian aid workers were taken to a detention centre near Tel Aviv last night.

Former UN assistant secretary general Denis Halliday and Nobel peace laureate Mairéad Maguire were among the Irish citizens on board the ship, which had rejected a deal to unload its cargo in Israel and accompany it across the border.

Additional reporting: Agencies