The Rittenhouse Review

A Philadelphia Journal of Politics, Finance, Ethics, and Culture

Tuesday, April 30, 2002  

U.N.'s Planned Fact-Finding Tour to Die a Quiet Death

"Facing strong Israeli objections, Secretary-General Kofi Annan is considering disbanding a U.N. fact-finding team that was to look into Israel's military assault on the Jenin refugee camp, a senior U.N. official said Tuesday," according to the latest Associated Press report.

As has been reported, the Israeli Cabinet decided today not to cooperate with a United Nations inquiry until the government's six demands were met regarding the mandate and composition of the team. "The U.N. team, which was to have been in Jenin Saturday, remained in Geneva for a third day," the A.P. reported.

"Since it appears from today's Cabinet statement by Israel that the difficulties in the way of deployment of the fact-finding team will not be resolved any time soon, the secretary-general is minded to disband the team,'' U.N. Undersecretary-General Kieran Prendergast told reporters following a briefing at the Security Council.

Prendergast told representatives of the members of the Security Council that Annan was inclined toward disbanding the three-member team, which since its creation has been joined by several other advisers.

Israel's refusal to accept the fact-finding mission headed for Jenin sets up the prospects for fireworks at the U.N. Security Council, which will consider whether or not to disband the mission at a meeting tomorrow.

We cannot emphasize more that the U.N. fact-finding mission that Israel has cooling its heels in Geneva, Switzerland, was established in large part at the behest of the United States, Israel's most loyal and reflexive ally and its largest donor, lender, and loan-backer. Why the Bush administration is tolerating this thumbing of the nose by Tel Aviv is a mystery to us.

"This is a shock for the Palestinian people and for every human being who believes in human rights," the A.P. quotes Ahmed Abdel Rahman, secretary of the Palestinian Cabinet, in reaction to Israel's obstinance.

"The Israelis are playing games,'' said Egypt's U.N. Ambassador Ahmed Aboul Gheit. "They are procrastinating and they are today facing the United Nations and rebuffing the secretary-general's position as well as the Security Council.''

Let's not be surprised. This is a position with which Israel has been comfortable for more than 50 years, flagrantly violating numerous U.N. Security Council resolutions, ignoring the interests of its closest ally, and interfering with any reasonable investigation of its violation of basic human rights in the occupied territories.

Strange, isn't it, that the Israelis are shocked and hurt when they are criticized for ignoring world opinion?

The Sharon government may consider this a victory, but they would be ill-advised to do so. This is the type of shameful, yet thoroughly characteristic, display of arrogance, obstinance, and stupidity we have come to expect from the current Israeli regime.

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