Israeli cabinet says no to U.N. fact-finding team
Israel's security cabinet decided Tuesday morning not to cooperate, for now, with the United Nations team to Jenin, saying that "the conditions set by Israel had not yet been met," Israel Radio reported.
Israel is effectively keeping the team from arriving, saying it fears an anti-Israel bias that will produce a highly critical report on Israel's military operation in the camp. Palestinians called on the United Nations to send the team immediately, claiming Israel is trying to cover up the killings of large numbers of civilians, something Israel strongly denies.
Israel asked Monday the United Nations to wait yet another day before it decides whether to accept a UN fact-finding mission into its army's assault on the Jenin refugee camp, a senior UN official said.
"I think at this stage, it is very urgent that we go in, find out what happened and put all the rumors and the accusations behind us," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said on Monday.
Under secretary general for political affairs Kieran Prendergast told reporters that he had conveyed the "disappointing news" to the Security Council, which met for consultations behind closed doors.
Originally, the team was scheduled to arrive in Tel Aviv on Saturday, but Israel obtained a delay until Sunday, and a further delay to Monday. "We were told it is going to meet tomorrow (Tuesday) at 8:00 am Israel time (0500 GMT) and we expect a letter from the foreign minister telling us of the decision afterwards," Prendergast said.
Meanwhile in Washington, U.S. State Department Spokesman Richard Boucher urged UN officials to consider Israel's complaints about the composition of the Jenin mission. "The United Nations should work with the parties involved, the Israelis and Palestinians, to try to coordinate on this mission," Boucher said.
"We look forward to a thorough and impartial assessment from this team to the Secretary General (Kofi Annan) of the recent events in Jenin," the U.S. official said. (Albawaba.com)
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