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Israel says won''t allow int''l cmte interrogation of citizens

GAZA, Aug 3 (KUNA) -- Although Israel has agreed to cooperate with a UN probe on the raid on a Gaza-bound flotilla in May, it will not allow the committee to interrogate Israeli officers, civilians or soldiers, according to officials.
"There was no choice but to agree to the international community's demands, first and foremost those of the US and the UN," one official source said in remarks to the Israeli media network "Yedioth Ahronoth" on Tuesday.
Following conclusions drawn from Goldstone Report, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his top six ministers decided to accept the demand by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, the source said. "We could have been considered naysayers, or we could have done what we did, which was to take part in determining the mandate that will be given to the committee and affect its program," he added.
The official source said the committee would have been established in any case, even without Israel's consent. "Though Israel didn't want another inquiry, there was no choice," he said. However, he stressed that the committee would not receive testimony from any Israeli citizen or military official, and would have to make do with documents. At most it will be permitted to interrogate state leaders. Israel on Monday informed Ban Ki-moon and Turkey that it initially approved forming a UN investigation team on the Israeli attack on the Freedom Flotilla aid convoy.
The team is expected to be headed by New Zealand's former prime minister Geoffrey Palmer and include representatives of the United States, the UN, Israel, and Turkey.
Israel had refused the formation of an international investigation committee on the May 31 attack in which nine civilians were killed and dozens of others injured.
The flotilla was heading to Gaza Strip to deliver humanitarian aid. (end) mt.rk KUNA 031004 Aug 10NNNN