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Israeli port workers prepare humanitarian aid seized from a peace flotilla to be sent to Gaza, at the Ashdod Port on June 1, 2010 in Ashdod, Israel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)
Israeli port workers prepare humanitarian aid seized from a peace flotilla to be sent to Gaza, at the Ashdod Port on June 1, 2010 in Ashdod, Israel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Canada backs U.S. opposition to UN-led flotilla inquiry Add to ...

Canada is backing the U.S. position that Israel can lead the investigation into the bloody raid on a Gaza-bound aid flotilla.

The United Nations Security Council issued a statement, watered down by U.S. objections, that calls for a credible, impartial investigation into the incident. But the Obama administration said later the investigation should be led by Israel.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper dodged questions in the Commons on whether he supports the Security Council resolution, but a senior government official said in diplomatic circles, Canada is backing the idea Israel should lead the investigation.

"Our position is similar to that of the Americans," said the official, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The stance once again puts Canada in a small club with the United States defending Israel.

Most other countries don't believe Israel can lead a credible investigation into its own actions. Turkey and several other countries had sought an independent international investigation, but the resolution that passed called only for a "prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards."

"We support an Israeli investigation that meets those criteria," U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday. "We are open to different ways of ensuring a credible investigation including international participation."

In Canada, NDP Leader Jack Layton said a UN-led investigation would be more likely to be seen as credible. "And credibility is important here," he said.

Israel objects to the idea of a UN investigation, however. Not only is it secretive about its security operations, it views the UN as a body that treats Israel as a punching bag.

The Security Council resolution also called for Israel to release all of the passengers from the flotilla detained in Israel. Mr. Harper declined to echo that call when queried in the Commons, even though three Canadians were among those being held. A spokesman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, Catherine Loubier, said Canadian officials were rendering them consular assistance. Reports on Tuesday said Israel had decided to release all of the detainees.

While Mr. Harper has remained staunchly supportive of Israel and the opposition parties have kept their criticism low-key, some opposition MPs are breaking party ranks on the issue.

NDP House Leader Libby Davies went farther than Mr. Layton's call for an investigation - she demanded Canada condemn Israel's "deadly assault on peace activists."

Liberal MP Glen Pearson called the Israeli raid "aggressive" on his blog Tuesday. He said it's right for his party to wait to hear more facts, "but I don't think we should be able to get out of this week without having said something about it."

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