Thursday, May 02, 2002


It seems that indeed the UN's fact finding mission is completely off. Today, Kofi Annan has stated that he will "disband the Jenin probe" primarily as a result of Israel's lack of cooperation with the United Nations. I saw Shimon Peres on MSNBC a couple of nights ago indicating as such, but the way in which he said it sounded quite contrarian. In essence, Peres explained Israel's refusal by saying that there were 250 journalists who can accomplish a fact finding mission as to whether the Israeli assault on the Jenin refugee camp was too harsh. The story from the Washington Post suggests that

"Israel, after first welcoming the mission and insisting it had nothing to hide, delayed it repeatedly by raising objections to its ground rules, arguing the team's report could put the Jewish state and its military on trial."

The White House issued a statement expressing its "regrets" that the U.N. mission did not materialize. But a senior administration official also suggested that the United States had concluded that no massacre took place at the camp.

This wouldn't be the first time Israel had been accused of using excessive force. In October of 1990, the first Bush administration, led by Ambassador Thomas Pickering at the UN, was supporting a resolution condemning Israel's "excessive response" to stone-throwing Palestinian demonstrators who clashed with Israeli security forces Monday in Jerusalem. The resolution itslef was proposed by Great Britain and it was to condemn violence that occurred after Palestinians outside al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem's Old City threw stones on Jewish worshippers praying at the Western Wall below al-Aqsa. Border police responded by firing tear gas, then live ammunition. Israeli authorities said 19 Palestinians were killed and 140 wounded. Twenty Israelis were wounded. The proposed resolution condemned "particularly the Israeli response" to Palestinian demonstration and called on the secretary general to dispatch an emissary to the region to investigate the incident. (from the Boston Globe's October 11, 1990 issue, "Israel faces UN rebuke on clash in Jerusalem ")

Of course this is a different case, but still, by not allowing outside investigators in, Israel is leaving itself open to criticism. I am not too sure to what extent a massacre had occurred, but I think it would be relevant, maybe even fair to the Palestinians to allow some outside body to investigate. Isn't transparency, after all, a hallmark of democracy?


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