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Again - Israel Denies UN Fact-finding Team

Again - Israel Denies UN Fact-finding Team
First published on Spectator.co.nz…

By Selwyn Manning.

A demonstration
in Tel Aviv against the Israeli occupation of Palestinian
territories - April 27 2002. Israel has refused to allow a fact-finding United Nations fact finding team to enter Israel and the West Bank. The team was to examine events surrounding Israel’s offensive against those living in Jenin refugee camp.

The Israeli cabinet decided last night not to allow the team in the region.

Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, accused the United Nations backing off agreements made with Israel so it would not be allowed to arrive.

Rivlin criticized the fact-finding team saying it was inevitable that the mission's report would blame Israel.

"This awful United Nations committee is out to get us and is likely to smear Israel and to force us to do things which Israel is not prepared even to hear about, such as interrogating soldiers and officers who took part in the fighting," Rivlin said. "No country in the world would agree to such a thing."

The United Nations has remained silent on the rejection. Palestinians are demanding that the United Nations send a team to the region irrespective of whether Israel allows it or not. But the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said Saturday that there was no reason for Israel to stall the fact-finding team’s access to the region. UN Spokesman Fred Eckhard said Saturday that the UN-Israeli talks aimed at clarifying the mission's scope and membership were going “reasonably well” and he didn't see any reason for further delay. The fact-finding team remains in Geneva.

US President Bush
with Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah at the Bush Ranch in
Texas. Meanwhile United States President George W Bush had talks with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Abdullah at the Bush family ranch in Crawford, Texas. The Crown Prince said the USA risks a backlash from Arab nations throughout the world unless it tempers its bias toward Israel and take a more objective position in Middle East affairs.

Bush said: “Our partnership is important to both our nations. And it is important to the cause of peace and stability in the Middle East and the world. We discussed the critical importance of the war on terror. Much of our discussion centred on the Middle East, and how to defuse the current situation so we can get back on the path to peace.”

“I made it clear to him that I expected Israel to withdraw, just like I've made it clear to Israel. And we expect them to be finished. He knows my position. He also knows that I will work for peace, I will bring parties along. But I think he recognizes that America can't do it alone, that it's going to require a unified effort. And one of the main things about this visit was to solidify that effort.

“I made it clear to him that I expected Israel to withdraw, just like I've made it clear to Israel. And we expect them to be finished. He knows my position. He also knows that I will work for peace, I will bring parties along. But I think he recognizes that America can't do it alone, that it's going to require a unified effort. And one of the main things about this visit was to solidify that effort,” George W Bush said.

The Israeli offensive stormed into Jenin around April 3. Eyewitnesses reported that Israeli bulldozers and tanks destroyed the refugee camp. Amnesty International accused Israel of slaughtering hundreds of civilians – women and children included. Red Cross and Red Crescent accused Israel of preventing it from helping the injured and dying – Israeli soldiers prevented aid agencies, hospital workers, journalists, and international observers from accessing and assessing the area where injured, homeless and dying people were captive. Dead lay in the streets for days. But Israel denied and continues to deny the claims stating Palestinian deaths were in the dozens, and most of them were gunmen or bombers. Israel lost 23 soldiers in the battle.

The United Nations cited probable breaches of human rights and demanded that Israel withdraw its troops from the Palestinian territories. The United State’s demands of a withdrawal were also ignored.

An international outcry spilled around the world. The United States initiated the idea to place a fact-finding team into the West Bank to gather information on what had happened there. At first Israel agreed, but then objected to the composition of the team, then agreed that the team could enter the region on Sunday – then an emergency Cabinet meeting rejected once again the United Nations demands.

Reports show Israel insists that a fact-finding team must consist of “military and terrorism experts, not political figures and experts on refugees”.

Send your comments to:Spectator News Editor.
© Spectator News Agency, Multimedia Investments Limited, 2002.

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