The Rittenhouse Review

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

Sunday, April 28, 2002  


The Associated Press is just out with news of the Israeli Cabinet meeting today. The Cabinet has decided Israel will refuse to allow a United Nations fact-finding team to investigate the aftermath of the Israeli invasion of the Jenin refugee camp.

Communications Minister Reuven Rivlin said today that the Cabinet determined the U.N. had reneged on its agreements over the composition of the team.

"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."

So after stalling for at least a week, the Israelis have "won."

It remains to be see whether we will ever really know what happened in Jenin. The Palestinians assert that Israeli soldiers massacred hundreds of civilians, but Israel maintains that no more than 50 Palestinians were killed and that most of them were gunmen or bombers. Israel says 23 of its soldiers were killed in the assault on the village. Reporters have been denied access to Jenin.

Surely Israel cannot be pleased with the prospect of lingering doubts, suspicions, and accusations, the inevitable comparisons to Sabra and Shatila.

It is worth emphasizing that the U.N. fact-finding mission was established by Secretary General Koffi Annan on the recommendation of the Bush administration. Thus, Israel is once again obstructing the aims of U.S. foreign policy in the region. The question on our minds is whether Israel will be called to account for this flagrant display of arrogance. We frankly doubt it.

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