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The United States backed calls Tuesday for international participation in Israel’s probe into its deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla saying it was “essential” to ensure credibility.

“International participation in investigating these matters will be important to the credibility that everybody wants to see,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Philip Crowley on Tuesday. “We are discussing with Israel and others the prospective nature of international participation in the investigation. And we’re sharing different ideas on how to best accomplish that.”

“We want to see an impartial, credible, prompt, thorough investigation. We recognize that international participation, which lends itself to countries and entities being able to vouch for the results of the investigation – will be an essential element to putting this tragedy behind us,” he went on to say.

Israel has rejected calls from a number of foreign governments and the United Nations for an international inquiry into the May 31 raid on a flotilla of aid ships seeking to break a blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Instead, Israel announced Tuesday the outlines of a limited probe to examine the legality of the Gaza blockade and the raid. Reports said the investigative panel would likely be composed of Israeli jurists and ex-diplomats, potentially joined by two international observers.

The Israeli raid, which left nine dead, sparked furious responses from many in the international community, with Turkey reacting particularly harshly.

Eight of those killed in the raid were Turkish citizens and the ninth was a Turkish- American citizen .

Feinstein wants inquiry

Normally an ardent defender of Israel, California Sen. Dianne Feinstein today called for an independent inquiry into Israel’s attack on the aid flotilla to the Gaza Strip “to determine exactly what took place.”

Feinstein chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, and her statement parts ways with most of her fellow Senators who have defended the Israeli position.

Feinstein called on Israel to “reassess the blockade in order to assure that necessary humanitarian assistance and material can get into Gaza.”

Israel a strategic liability

Anthony Cordesman, a respected defense expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, wrote last week that Israel has become a “strategic liability.”

Cordesman said the U.S. commitment to Israel should not mean that “that the United States should extend support to an Israeli government when that government fails to credibly pursue peace with its neighbors. It does not mean that the United States has the slightest interest in supporting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, or that the United States should take a hard-line position on Jerusalem that would effectively make it a Jewish rather than a mixed city. It does not mean that the United States should be passive when Israel makes a series of major strategic blunders — such as persisting in the strategic bombing of Lebanon during the Israeli-Hezbollah conflict, escalating its attack on Gaza long after it had achieved its key objectives, embarrassing the U.S. president by announcing the expansion of Israeli building programs in east Jerusalem at a critical moment in U.S. efforts to put Israeli-Palestinian peace talks back on track, or sending commandos to seize a Turkish ship in a horribly mismanaged effort to halt the ‘peace flotilla’ going to Gaza.”

SFgate

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