- UNITED NATIONS (AP)
- Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday refused Israel's demand to delay
and change a U.N. team that will investigate Israel's assault on the Jenin
refugee camp, directing its members to arrive in the Mideast by Saturday.
- The U.N. Security Council held emergency consultations
Tuesday night after Israel suddenly announced it was delaying the fact-finding
- Israel's U.N. Ambassador Yehuda Lancry said Israel wanted
more military and counter-terrorism experts added to the team, assurances
it would confine its activities to Jenin, and an investigation of Palestinian
terrorist activities in the refugee camp.
- Arab nations have accused Israel of massacring Palestinian
civilians in the camp, but Israel says the deaths and destruction resulted
from gunbattles between its soldiers and Palestinian gunmen. The fighting
in Jenin was the fiercest of Israel's 3-week-old military offensive.
- While the council was holding consultations, Lancry met
Annan in his 38th floor office at U.N. headquarters to ask for changes
in the team's composition and its scope of action.
- Annan would not discuss his choice of team members, though
he did not rule out adding additional experts if necessary, a statement
from the U.N. spokesman said.
- The secretary-general said the mandate of the team was
the Security Council's resolution adopted unanimously last Friday which
welcomes the fact-finding mission. It also expresses concern at "the
dire humanitarian situation of the Palestinian civilian population,"
especially in Jenin.
- At the end of a nearly two-hour meeting, the council
issued a statement saying it expects "fast implementation" of
Friday's resolution and Israel's "full cooperation" with the
secretary-general and the team.
- Israel asked to send representatives to brief U.N. officials
"to make sure that the government's point of view was understood,"
and they could arrive on Thursday, the U.N. statement said.
- The secretary-general agreed to postpone the departure
of the fact-finding team to allow those consultations, "but he expects
the team to be in the Middle East by this Saturday."
- Former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, leader of
the fact-finding team, went ahead with his scheduled flight to Geneva on
Tuesday night, where he will meet other team members. He said earlier that
he expected to reach the region by the end of the week.
- An Israeli official in Jerusalem charged that the team
was chosen by Annan without consulting Israel, as had been agreed, and
the members were political, not from a military background as Israel had
- A Western diplomat said Israel wanted to negotiate terms
for the team's activities in Palestinian areas, and wanted one member removed,
Cornelio Sommaruga, former president of the International Committee of
the Red Cross.
- Israel has had a difficult relationship with the United
Nations, which once had a resolution on the books equating Zionism with
racism. Relations improved under Annan but were strained again last year
after the United Nations admitted it misled Israel about potential evidence
in the kidnapping of Israeli troops in south Lebanon. Recent remarks made
by Annan's envoy to the Mideast over the Jenin operation infuriated the
- Problems with the International Committee of the Red
Cross which Sommaruga headed from 1987 until 1999 have been continual since
Israel was first rejected for membership in the organization in 1949. The
ICRC recognizes only the Cross and the Muslim Crescent as official emblems
and will not sanction the Jewish Star of David as a symbol for relief workers.
- Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres gave a green light
to the fact-finding mission on Friday saying the country had "nothing
- After meeting Annan, Lancry told reporters "Israel
is ready to cooperate with the fact-finding team." But he said Israel
"is looking to get a more balanced team," and to ensure that
"the focus will be Jenin and not other areas."
- Israeli Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer on Monday
night demanded that retired U.S. Maj. Gen. William Nash, who was appointed
as military adviser, be made a full member of the team because of the complex
security issues involved a demand Lancry reiterated.
- Annan is sticking with his three-member team Ahtisaari,
Sommaruga and Sadako Ogata, the former U.N. high commissioner for refugees.
- But Ahtisaari stressed that Nash would play "a crucial
role" and the entire mission which will number about 20 with advisers,
administrative and security personnel would act as a team.
- Neither Annan nor Ahtisaari ruled out the possibility
of going outside Jenin.
- Nasser Al-Kidwa, the Palestinian U.N. observer, called
the Israeli decision to seek a delay "blatant blackmail which will
definitely undermine the integrity of the fact-finding process."
- "We thought that the Israeli side did not have anything
to hide, but obviously they do," he said.
- Al-Kidwa said he initially asked for the council meeting
after explosions in the Ramallah compound where Arafat is besieged by Israeli
troops and tanks, which he called "a very dangerous development."
- The Security Council statement Tuesday expressed "serious
concern" for Arafat's safety and "stressed that there must be
no harm to him or others in the compound together with him," and reiterated
that the siege must be lifted.
- Copyright 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.