UN independent panel rejects Palmer report
A panel of human rights experts reporting to the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council released a report on Tuesday in which they declared that a naval blockade imposed by Israel on Gaza is illegitimat
Palestine, Middle East, Turkey 15.09.2011

The report which was prepared by five independent human rights experts stated that Israel had used unreasonable force in its attack on the Gaza-bound Freedom Flotilla in international waters last year, which claimed the lives of nine peace activists.

Prepared by former New Zealand Prime Minister Geoffrey Palmer and former Colombian President Alvaro Uribe and presented to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sept. 2, the UN panel's report on the 2010 Israeli attack on Mavi Marmara labeled the Israeli raid as “excessive and unreasonable,” but also claimed that due to Israel's security concerns, its blockade of Gaza is legal. The UN panel also blamed Turkey and flotilla organizers for contributing to the deaths.

The human rights experts said the blockade had subjected Gazans to collective punishment in "flagrant contravention of international human rights and humanitarian law."

The four-year blockade deprived 1.6 million Palestinians living in the enclave of fundamental rights, they said.

"In pronouncing itself on the legality of the naval blockade, the Palmer Report does not recognize the naval blockade as an integral part of Israel's closure policy towards Gaza which has a disproportionate impact on the human rights of civilians," they said in a joint statement.

Harsh criticisms at Palmer report

The report of the human rights experts stated that Israel recklessly violates international human rights law and international humanitarian law and subjects Gazans to collective punishment.

Richard Falk, UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories and one of the five experts who issued Tuesday's statement, said the Palmer report's conclusions were influenced by a desire to salve Turkish-Israeli ties.

"The Palmer report was aimed at political reconciliation between Israel and Turkey. It is unfortunate that in the report politics should trump the law," he said in the statement.

An earlier fact-finding mission named by the same UN forum to investigate the flotilla incident also found in a report last September that the blockade violated international law. 

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