- JERUSALEM (AP) - Israel's
Cabinet decided Sunday not to allow a U.N. fact-finding team to come to
the region to look into the battle in the Jenin refugee camp, a Cabinet
- Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin, briefing reporters
after a lengthy Cabinet meeting, said the United Nations had gone back
on its agreements with Israel over the team, and so it would not be allowed
- In an eight-day battle that ended April 11, the center
of the Jenin refugee camp was devastated by Israeli bulldozers and tanks.
Palestinians charged that Israeli soldiers massacred hundreds of civilians,
but Israel said that the Palestinian deaths were in the dozens, and most
of them were gunmen or bombers. Israel lost 23 soldiers in the
- After an international outcry, the United Nations,
a U.S. initiative, put together an inquiry team to look into what happened
at the camp. At first Israel agreed, but then objected to the framework
and procedures the team was to follow and to the composition of the
- The Israelis insisted that the team be made up of
and terrorism experts, not political figures and experts on
- Israel sent officials to U.N. headquarters in New York
on Thursday to press the world body to change the nature of the team.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan refused to delay the dispatch of the
team. Its members have been in Geneva, waiting for the green light to fly
to the region.
- Rivlin, speaking for the Cabinet, said the composition
of the team and its terms of reference made it inevitable that its 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," he said. "No country
in the world would agree to such a thing."
- Palestinians have objected to Israel's delay of the
team, insisting that the United Nations send it immediately.