Israel Asks US to Delay Work of Inquiry Panel

Published November 22nd, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Israel asked on Tuesday the United States to delay the start of work by the international fact-finding committee that has been appointed under the chairmanship of former US Senator, George Mitchell, to investigate the violence in the occupied territories between Palestinians and Israeli forces, according to Haaretz newspaper.  

In a letter to US National Security Adviser Sandy Berger, Israel's Foreign Minister Shlomo Ben-Ami said that in light of the continuing violence in the territories, it would be inappropriate for the committee to begin its work as that "would be perceived as an encouragement for further violence against Israel by the Palestinians," said the paper. 

Ben-Ami told Israel's channel two TV that in conversations with senior White House officials, he had drawn a distinction between the appointment of the committee, which Israel agreed to under the Sharm el-Sheikh understandings, and the commencement of the committee's work, which was conditional upon fulfillment of the clauses of the Sharm understandings calling for a reduction of violence. 

According to a senior Israeli official, "the committee may not, in any case, commence its work until it has obtained the agreement of Israel and the Palestinians to its working procedures, the nature of the investigation, and the composition of its technical support team."  

Israel also formally notified the UN Tuesday of its opposition to the establishment of an international observer force in the Palestinian territories. According to the paper, there are three proposals, which are currently being discussed by the Security Council:  

1- A Palestinian proposal to establish an armed "protective force" comprising some 2,000 observers which will separate the Palestinians and the Israeli. 

2- A French proposal for an unarmed force of similar size. 

3- A British proposal for a restricted team of observers that would support George Mitchell's fact-finding committee. 

Haaretz added that foreign ministry officials believe that at least nine of the fifteen Security Council members would reject the Palestinian proposal as being against their own interests - Albawaba.com  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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