Israel Bans UN Mission To Jenin -
Will NOT Allow Inspection

By Jack Katzenell
Associated Press Writer

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 minister said.
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 to arrive.
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 battle.
After an international outcry, the United Nations, following 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 team.
The Israelis insisted that the team be made up of military and terrorism experts, not political figures and experts on refugees.
Israel sent officials to U.N. headquarters in New York on Thursday to press the world body to change the nature of the team. However, 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 fact-finding team, insisting that the United Nations send it immediately.

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