Testing the international community

International investigation into Israel's flotilla raid necessary to defend rule of law.

    The Israeli government has established an internal commission to investigate the deadly raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla on May 31 [EPA]

    Israel's raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla is not simply inter-state affair concerning Israel and Turkey. It is, rather, an issue between Israel and the international community.

    When Israel attacked the flotilla, with citizens of 32 countries aboard, it struck brutally at the international community. Its actions were in clear violation of international law and the international community must now demand that Israel be held to account.

    If the international community fails to insist that international law be applied to this situation, the rule of law will lose credibility and once again be replaced by the principle of "might is right".

    Ethical necessity


    The incident has exposed Israeli exceptionalism, whereby Israel sees itself as being above the law. But, the international community must respond by demonstrating that Israel can be criticised and punished for its deeds. This is the only way to ensure that Israel's reprehensible actions are stopped.

    Individuals, leaders, states and international organisations have condemned Israel's actions and demonstrations have been held around the world. And despite Israeli propaganda, Israel is growing increasingly isolated. But, if similar acts are to be prevented from happening in the future, Israel must now be punished by the international community according to international law. This is a juristic and ethical necessity.

    The international community's prestige is derived from its commitment to ethics. Similarly, international law is based upon the principle of power balance, norms, agreements, and the teachings and doctrines of law and ethics. One must regard Israel's use of brutal force against the aid flotilla as inconsistent with the jus cogens of international law, which prohibits the use of force.

    The humanitarian aspect of the incident must also not be forgotten. For the purpose of the flotilla was not only to deliver aid to the people of Gaza but to break the silence over the suffering of the Strip's 1.5 million people.

    By attacking an aid flotilla that had children on board, Israel contravened armed conflict law, which prohibits harming women and children. This offers another example of Israel's willingness to ruthlessly commit humanitarian crimes against women and children.

    Betraying Jewish history

    By murdering Turkish citizens, Israel has not only attacked the international community, it has also betrayed Jewish history. Turkey has a long history of protecting and embracing Jews and Jewish intellectuals and, more broadly society, must now question this. Perhaps by doing so, the Israeli government can be stopped from taking a path from which there can be no turning back.

    However, it is interesting to note that Egypt and other Arab countries, which used to keep the door of welfare closed to the Gaza Strip, have now opened it. This makes us consider the US-Israel-Egypt triad's influence on the blockade.

    When Barack Obama, the US president, came to power, everyone expected to see differences between the new administration and that of George Bush, his predecessor. But unequivocal US support for Israel remains, causing the US to lose credibility in the Middle East. The US backing of Israel's open crime serves to undermine those US policies that are intended to improve relations with the Islamic world.

    An international investigation into the deadly raid must take place if Israel's actions are to be judged objectively and if Israel is to pay for its deeds. This will internationalise the incident, circumventing Israel's propaganda and treating the raid as the international security issue it is.

    The events of May 31 will go down in history and mark a milestone for Middle Eastern politics and for the international community - serving as a major test of international law and the international community's resolve. But the process will lead the world to a more peaceful future, inspiring the international community's efforts to lift the siege on the Gaza Strip and advancing a plan for the establishment of a Palestinian state.

    Abdulkadir Emin Önen is chairman of the Turkish Group in the Asian Parliamentary Assembly and the AK Party's vice chairman for external affairs.

    The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera


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