Monday, January 24, 2011

Comparison of Israeli and Turkish Commissions Into Mavi Marmara

Comparison of Israeli and Turkish Commissions to Investigate the Events of May 31, 2010
Criteria for the investigation, as defined by the UN Security Council (SC/9940)
  • Prompt
  • Impartial
  • Credible
  • Transparent
  • Conforming to International Standards

Commission Powers and Methods:

The Israeli Commission
The Turkish Commission
Duration of the Commission's Work 
(part 1)
The Commission was established on June 14, 2010, soon after the flotilla event. It completed work on its Report (part 1) within seven months  Established August 11, 2010, it finished its work by September. Its report was prepared in only three weeks.
Commission Transparency
o The Commission's website includes the testimony of most of those who appeared during its public sessions.
 The majority of the Commission's sessions were public. A minority took place behind closed doors for security, diplomatic or other pressing reasons. The Commission itself decided which sessions would be public and which closed. The foreign observers were present during all of the sessions, including those that were closed to the public.
 The Commission will make its report available online in English and Hebrew.
The Turkish Commission has no website, its report was not published, and it has not been made available to the public.
Authority to summon witnesses and receive documents 
  The Commission operates with powers and authorities well-defined in Israeli law (specifically articles 9-11 and 27 of the Commissions of Inquiry Law.
 The Commissions of Inquiry Law determines that the Commission shall have powers comparable to those of an Israeli civil court.
 Every Israeli government body and official was required to cooperate fully with the Commission. They were required to submit to the Commission any information deemed necessary, and to testify before it if so requested.
 The Commission was entitled to seek any information from the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, other ministers and IDF Chief of Staff, including via verbal testimony.
 The Commission was empowered to seek the testimony of, or information from, any person or body, whether in Israel or abroad. It could do so regarding any subject which it believed was relevant to its investigation.
 The Commission Chair was authorized, under the Commissions of Inquiry Law, to impose a monetary penalty on officials who refused to cooperate. (Under certain circumstances, in the case of an extended and unjustified refusal, the Commission Chair could impose a penalty of imprisonment for up to two years).
The Commission issued a public call to the flotilla participants, to the citizens of Turkey, Israel and all other countries, and to any other eyewitnesses with relevant information, to testify before the Commission.
Evidence and testimony
 All of the information requested by the Commission was provided to it.
 Dozens of witnesses were summoned to give testimony, including senior members of the political and military echelons. Among those who testified were the Prime Minister, Defense Minister, IDF Chief of Staff, Military Advocate General, Foreign Ministry Director General, National Security Advisor, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Dangot, senior officials in the Interior Ministry and the Israeli Police, human rights and other civil society organizations, the head of the parliamentary Opposition and eyewitnesses to the events on the Mavi Marmara.
The committee examined thousands of pages of documents and hundreds of video clips.
Impartiality and independence
o Committee made up of independent experts 
o The committee was given total freedom to determine the course and manner of its work. 
o The committee decided who to summon to testify, what information to request, etc.
Commission composed of government officials only
The legal foundations of the committeeArticle 9 of the Commissions of Inquiry Law determines that the Commission Chair may, with the agreement of the other members:
  • Summon relevant persons to testify and require that documents be brought before it.
  • Require a witness to give testimony under oath as if he or she were testifying in a civil court.
  • Impose penalties and use other methods to compel a person to appear and testify before the Commission, if the person does not have sufficiently reasonable grounds for refusing.
  • To order the gathering of testimony outside of Israel
  •    Art. 10 of the Commission of Inquiry Law determines that the duties of a person summoned to appear before the Commission shall be "those of one under investigation according to art. 2 of the Israel Criminal Procedure Stature (Testimony)."
  Issues investigated by the committeeThe Commission was asked to examine whether Israel's actions were in accordance with international law. More specifically it was asked to-
  • Examine the security considerations which led to the imposition of a maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip, and the compatibility of the blockade with the provisions of international law.
  • Examine the compatibility with international law of the actions which Israel took on May 31, 2010 to enforce its blockade.
  • Examine the actions and identities of the flotilla organizers and participants.
  • Examine whether the mechanisms which exist in Israel for examining claims regarding violations of the Laws of Armed Conflict, in general and specifically with reference to the events of May 31, are compatible with Israel's international legal obligations (findings regarding this issue will be published in the near future.)

 It should be noted that the Turkel commission is in fact the second Israel committee established to examine the events of May 31, 2010. The findings of the committee headed by Major General (ret.) Giora Eiland were submitted to the Turkel Commission, and Eiland himself gave testimony before that commission.

Commission Members:

Israeli Commission
Turkish Commission
Commission CharacterPublic and independent commission headed by a former Supreme Court justiceInternal government commission
Commission membersJacob Turkel, Committee Chair
  • Served as a judge for 38 years, including ten years on Israel's Supreme Court
  • Served as chair of numerous public commissions
  • A senior lecturer at the leading institutes of higher education in Israel.
Officials from various government offices. Individual identities are not known

Amb. Shabtai Rosenne
(note- Amb. Rosenne passed away on Sept. 21, 2010, while the Commission's work was in progress)
  • An internationally-renowned legal scholar and diplomat
  • Served for 19 years as a legal advisor in the Foreign Ministry
  • Recipient of Israel Prize for Jurisprudence
  • Recipient of Hague Prize for International Law in 2004
  • Elected as Honorary President of the American Society of International Law
  • Faculty member of leading law faculties in Israel and abroad (including Bar-Ilan University, University of Cambridge, University of Amsterdam, the Hague Academy of International Law.)
  • Served as a legal advisor to the governments of the USA, Yugoslavia, Japan and other countries.

Major-General (Ret.) Amos Horev
  • Former President of the Technion- Israel Institute of Technology
  • BA and MA from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Served in numerous senior positions in the IDF
  • Served as Chief Scientist of the IDF
  • Chaired numerous public investigative commissions

Prof. Miguel Deutch
  • Tel Aviv University School of Law Professor
  • Members of tens of academic commissions and committees
  • Lecturer at numerous leading universities in Israel and abroad and at theInstitute for Continuing Legal Studies for Judges
  • For the past 17 years has advised and drafted legislation for the Ministry of Justice
  • Principal Researcher and member of the Civil Law Codification Committee, chaired by former Supreme Court Chief Justice Aharon Barak

Amb. Reuven Merhav
  • More than thirty years of service in the diplomatic and intelligence fields, including in the Foreign Ministry and Mossad
  • A Fellow at the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies for more than 15 years.
  • Led the joint team from the Prime Minister's Office and the Jerusalem Institute which studied issues related to permanent status negotiations with the Palestinians. Served as an advisor to PM Ehud Barak at the 2000 Camp David Summit.
  •  Served as Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1988-1991) and Director General of the Ministry of Immigrant Absorption (1992-1993).
  •  Studied Middle Eastern history, Arabic and languages at the Hebrew University's Institute of Asian and African Studies.
  • Was awarded a Medal of Merit by the President of the Czech Senate for his work at the Holocaust Era Assets Commission (HEAC).

Foreign Observers on the Commission: Took an active part in all facets of the Commission's work, including its discussions, consultations, and examination of witnesses.Brigadier-General_(Ret.) Kenneth W. Watkin,
  •  Citizen of Canada
  •  Retired in April 2010 as the Judge Advocate General for the Canadian forces after 33 years of military service, including twenty-eight years as a military legal officer.
  •  Judge Advocate General from 2006 to 2010.
  •  Was the legal advisor to a 1993 Canadian military/civilian board of inquiry that investigated the activities of the Canadian forces in Somalia. 
  •  From 1995-2005, was Government counsel in respect of various investigations and inquiries arising from the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
  •  Received in 1997 the Maritime Commander's Commendation for legal services provided to the Canadian Navy. In 2002 was appointed to the Order of Military Merit and in 2006 was appointed Queen's Counsel.
  • From 2002 to 2003 was a Visiting Fellow at the Human Rights Program at Harvard Law School. .
  •  Appointed the 2010-12 Charles H. Stockton Professor of International Law at the United States Naval War College.
  • Has published widely on a variety of operational law topics, including the international humanitarian law, human rights and discipline.

The Rt. Hon.(William) David Trimble, Lord Trimble
  •  Citizen of Ireland
  • 1998 Nobel Peace Laureate (jointly with John Hume), following the making of the Belfast Agreement (Good Friday).
  • Leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, 1995 to 2005.
  • First Minister, Northern Ireland, 1998 to 2002.
  •  Member of the Northern Ireland Assembly, 1998 to 2007.
  •  Created Lord Trimble of Lisnagarvey in 2006. Sitting in the House of Lords as a Crossbench peer (2006), then as a Conservative Peer (2007 to date.)
  •  Member (South Belfast) of the Northern Ireland Constitutional Convention.
  • Formerly a Senior Lecturer in law at Queen's University, Belfast.
  •  Published numerous articles and books on various legal subjects.

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