Israel's cabinet on Sunday allowed an internal panel, set up to probe a deadly raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla, to compel witnesses to appear and testify under oath after complaints of being"powerless."
But the decision did not constitute a broadening of the inquiry's mandate to include an examination of Israeli political leaders' decision-making in ordering the May 31 attack in which nine Turkish activists were brutally killed.
A government statement said the cabinet granted the five-man panel led by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel subpoena powers and that witnesses would be sworn in, effectively exposing them to perjury charges for any false testimony.
Turkel had asked the government for those specific powers and has said he would summon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defence Minister Ehud Barak and Israel's military chief, Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi to appear.
Netanyahu has said he, Barak and Ashkenazi would testify. However, other military personnel will not appear before the panel but will be questioned in a separate military investigation.
Despite an international outcry over the raid, Israel had rejected a proposal by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon for an international inquiry, as Turkey repeatedly demanded.
Turkel has said the commission's mandate calls for an examination of whether Israel's naval blockade of the Gaza Strip and the flotilla's raid conformed with international law.
It also will investigate the actions of the convoy's organisers and participants.
Due to the limited scope of the inquiry, it is seen as unlikely to pose any political threat to Netanyahu's government.
Turkey recalled Israel ambassador and cancelled joint military exercises.
Related news reports:
Israel's internal panel complains powerless in Gaza probe
Turkey still awaits Israel to return Gaza aid ships
Turkish autopsy: Israeli soldiers shot activists from choppers
Turkey to sue Israel for Gaza aid victims - UPDATED
Israel probe members "embarrass US"
Israel wants UN not to probe deadly Gaza aid attack
Güncelleme Tarihi: 05 Temmuz 2010, 12:37