World News Brief, Wednesday June 2

Isarel holds activists while UN and EU call for full inquiry into raid on aid flotilla (+ analysis); Japanese PM under pressure to resign; Was South Korean warship sinking part of Kim Jong-Il succession plans?; Al Qaeda's "chief operating officer" believed dead; and more

Top of Agenda: Israel Holds Activists in Gaza Crisis

Israel held hundreds of pro-Palestinian activists on an aid flotilla that Israeli commandos raided (NYT) Monday after the ship sought to breach Israel's blockade of the Gaza strip. Israeli troops also killed two militants who infiltrated from Gaza. These developments came hours after the UN Security Council condemned Israel for killing nine of the activists aboard the Turkish ship. The UN Security Council, Russia, and the EU all separately called for an impartial inquiry into the matter. Turkey, one of Israel's closest Muslim allies, recalled its ambassador to Israel and cancelled planned military exercises with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu flew home after canceling a Tuesday meeting with US President Barack Obama. Netanyahu said the Israeli military was enforcing a legal blockade and defending itself from passengers on the ship. A video released by the military of the raid supports that claim. Organizers of the flotilla released their own videos to support their claim that Israeli forces opened fire as soon as they landed on deck.

The diplomatic crisis could obstruct US-backed peace talks (WSJ) in the region and negotiations on sanctions against Iran.


A Washington Post editorial says Israel's response to the pro-Palestinian flotilla was "misguided and badly executed."

Israel's response marked another setback for US-Turkish relations and possible complications for the latest U.S.-brokered Mideast peace talks, says CFR's Steven Cook.


PACIFIC RIM: Japanese PM Pressured to Resign

Japanese Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama is facing pressure to resign (BBC) amid plunging popularity and a broken election pledge to move the controversial US base from Okinawa.

South Korea: In the wake of North Korea's alleged sinking of a South Korean ship, President Lee Myung-bak's government is reviewing its long-term defense policy (WSJ), which could impact the US-South Korean military alliance.

The ship's sinking could have been part of a legitimization process to prepare for a new leader to succeed the ailing Kim Jong-Il, says North Korea expert Victor Cha.



-Qaeda Commander Believed Dead
-France to Boost UN Role for Africa


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