Israel decides not to cooperate with U.N. fact-finding team
Israel has decided not to cooperate with the U.N. fact-finding mission to probe the Israeli army's offensive in the Jenin refugee camp. Israel originally said it would cooperate with any inquiry mission sent to the region by the UN.
However, Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, and representatives from the Foreign Ministry and the defense establishment decided Tuesday night not to cooperate with the UN mission.
Sharon and Ben-Eliezer decided to suspend Israel's approval of the probe because they considered some of the members named to the team "would be prejudiced against Israel," sources said.
"We weren't happy with the fact that there was no military presence on the team," an Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
The Israeli ambassador to the UN in New York was due to notify Secretary-General Kofi Annan of Israel's decision, Israel Radio reported.
The United Nations Security Council was to meet in an emergency session to discuss the Middle East, the UN spokesman's office said.
The council voted unanimously Friday to accept UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's proposal to send a fact-finding team to Jenin, where Palestinians say 500 civilians were massacred by Israeli troops, a charge Israel denies.
The three-person team, led by Finland's former president, Martti Ahtisaari, and accompanied by two senior military and police experts, was due to meet Wednesday in Geneva and to leave for the region soon afterwards.
Earlier Tuesday, Sharon had told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that Israel had been left with no choice but to accept the fact-finding mission to the Jenin refugee camp, but that he feared the outcome of the mission. (Albawaba.com)
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