The U.N. Secretary General on Thursday formally disbanded a U.N. team to probe Israel's military attack on the Jenin refugee camp, despite Arab opposition to scuttling the fact-finding mission.
The United Nations Security Council is to conduct a public debate Friday on this issue. This comes after the Security Council agreed to the Arab request for a public debate overnight Thursday, after it was unable to reach a decision in its two previous sessions.
Arab nations who strongly supported the fact-finding probe failed to win enough support in the U.N. Security Council early Thursday for a resolution asking Annan to deploy the team and demanding Israel's cooperation.
The council also couldn't agree later Thursday on a letter that would have supported Annan's decision to disband the team and harshly criticized Israel's non-compliance. The draft letter said council members "deplore the decision of the government of Israel not to cooperate with the fact-finding team."
"We have a strong disagreement on how harsh the language should be, whether in the resolution or the letter," a U.S. official told AP.
During Thursday's meeting, Palestinian observer to the UN Nasser al-Kidwa called for a meeting of the General Assembly, in order to denounce Israel over its refusal to accept the UN delegation.
Had the General Assembly be convened, there was expected to be sweeping support for the Palestinians, as the United States does not reserve the right to veto decisions reached there.
Meanwhile, the Israeli army rejected a Human Rights Watch report that accused its troops of committing "warcrimes" in the Jenin refugee camp as biased and ill-conceived.
"It appears that the report completely ignores the root cause of the Israeli army operation in Jenin," army spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Olivier Rafowicz said Friday.
"The report did not study the intricate terrorist infrastructure in the Jenin camp, and the placement of such infrastructure in a densely populated civilian area," he said.
According to AFP, the army spokesman argued that the "proportion of Israeli casualties (in Jenin) is roughly one to two, fully compatible with a combat situation."
The report by the US-based Human Rights Watch released Thursday concluded the Israeli army did not commit massacres in the camp as Palestinians had claimed.
But it ruled that human rights were violated in apparent "war crimes," including the alleged army use of Palestinian human shields. (Albawaba.com)
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