Watchdog criticises Israel PM over flotilla raid (AFP) AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE) By Hazel Ward 06/13/12)
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Israel´s state watchdog criticised Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
on Wednesday over his handling of a 2010 raid on a Gaza-bound
flotilla that left nine Turks dead and ties with Ankara in shreds.
In a 153-page report, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss slammed
the decision-making process that led to the botched pre-dawn raid on
the six-ship flotilla on May 31, 2010, which was headed by the Mavi
Marmara, a Turkish ferry carrying more than 600 people.
The assault triggered an international outcry and a lingering
diplomatic crisis between once-close allies Israel and Turkey, with
Ankara demanding a formal apology and compensation for the families
of the victims.
"In the process of decision-making, which was led by the prime
minister and under his responsibility, regarding the handling of the
(flotilla), there were significant shortcomings," Lindenstrauss wrote
in the report.
Netanyahu, it said, had not held any structured, formal discussion
with top ministers about the flotilla, and had only held separate
talks on the issue with Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Foreign
Minister Avigdor Lieberman, none of which were properly documented.
"The prime minister did not order integrative staff work regarding
the necessary policy to deal with the flotilla, instead there were
personal, separate meetings, between the prime minister and the
defence minister, and between the prime minister and the foreign
minister, which were not documented or summarised, and there was no
discussion between the prime minister and any group of ministers,"
the report said.
"The only discussion that took place on the issue was in the Forum of
Seven just before the flotilla arrived, an ´ad-hoc´ discussion
without any preparation," it said, referring to Netanyahu´s inner
circle of ministers which now numbers nine.
"The process of decision-making was done without orderly, agreed-
upon, coordinated and documented staff work, despite the recognition
of the senior political echelon and IDF (Israel Defence Forces)
chiefs, intelligence bodies and the National Security Council on the
exceptional nature of the Turkish flotilla compared to previous
flotillas," it said.
And although Barak and then chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi had raised
fears the activists could be armed, nothing was done to plan a
Reacting to the report, the premier´s office issued a statement
defending its record on security, saying Israel was enjoying a level
of safety not seen "for many years."
"This security is the direct result of responsible management and
determined policy. The security discussions that have been held over
the past three years have been unprecedented in their scope and
depth, as attested to by those who have participated in them," it
It also referred to a UN report on the flotilla, published last year,
which endorsed the legality of Israel´s naval blockade on Gaza, while
chiding the Jewish state for using "excessive force" in preventing
National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror said it was not clear that
handling the raid differently would have ensured a better result, but
that the decision-making process had improved greatly since then.
"The State Comptroller himself says that he is not at all sure that
there is a link between a different process and better results," he
said, adding the authorities had better handled subsequent attempts
by pro-Palestinian activists to reach Gaza and the West Bank.
"The result in these was different. If one looks at all these events,
one understands that the decision-making process is much, much
better," he said, indicating they were managed with "an orderly
Barak also responded to the report, pledging to implement the
"Defence Minister Ehud Barak accepts the criticism and will work...
to ensure the military and defence establishment will fix all that
needs to be fixed," a statement from his office said.
"That´s what should be done and that is what will be done."
But opposition head Shelly Yachimovich found fault not only in the
actions but also main subjects of the report.
"I read the report, it is infuriating," she said. "It reveals a
complacent prime minister, who makes decisions on his own and with
defence minister Barak, in an irresponsible process seeping with
"Barak and Netanyahu´s vast experience not only did not help, but
seems to have made them think they could do everything on their own,
as a pair, without sufficient knowledge and without examining
alternatives," Yachimovich said.
Commentators were quick to put the report by the outgoing-comptroller
into a wider context.
"The most important thing is the comptroller´s legacy," said Israel
public radio´s Hanan Crystal.
"What he´s really saying here is ´Don´t take decisions on Iran in the
same manner, there you should have organised decision-taking´."
(Copyright © 2012 Agence France Presse. 06/13/12)
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