Israel Grants Flotilla Inquiry Additional Powers
Israel's cabinet on Sunday decided to grant additional powers to the committee investigating the botched commando raid on the Gaza-bound aid flotilla.
"The government has unanimously decided to extend the powers of the Tirkel Commission," an official statement said. "The commission of inquiry will be joined by two experts and will hear witnesses speaking under oath."
Israel launched the Turkel Commission, headed by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, in the wake of global demands to investigate Israel's May 31 raid that left nine Turkish activists dead.
By request of Turkel, who threatened to resign unless the committee was granted additional powers, the panel's authority was expanded to be similar to the authority's granted to a governmental commission of inquiry.
According to the statement, the government would add two additional experts to the panel that would also have the authority to hear witness testimony under oath.
Last week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said there was no reason not to meet Turkel's requests, adding that the committee would still not be able to hear direct testimony from soldiers.
"The cabinet authorized this morning the extension of authorities for the public commission of inquiry into the flotilla affair," the statement said. "The recommendation was approved without opposition. The said authorities relate to summoning witnesses and swearing them in for testimony. The decision does not apply to IDF soldiers and maintains the independence of the institution of military investigations."