Toothless UN probe into Jenin Massacre will grant immunity to Israeli soldiers

  • From: "Muslim News" <editor_@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Muslim News" <submit@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Mon, 29 Apr 2002 09:51:30 +0100

Israel's delegation for talks with the United Nations fact-finding team on 
Jenin events has received assurances that Israeli soldiers who testify in the 
investigation will remain anonymous. The Israeli team, which is headed by 
Defense Ministry deputy director general Moshe Kohanovsky, and includes Foreign 
Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker, has thus guaranteed that Israel Defense 
Forces soldiers will not be liable to stand trial as a result of the UN team's 
findings. In addition, the UN has indicated that it will review evidence 
attesting to the terror infrastructure that had been established in the camp. 

The UN, however, rejected a request by Israel that retired U.S. General Bill 
Nash be made a member of the UN team investigating the IDF's incursion into the 
refugee camp, Israel Radio reported yesterday. Nash will remain the team's 
military adviser. 

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan did, however, agree to one of Israel's demands 
by adding two additional military advisers to the mission, UN spokesman Fred 
Eckhard said on Friday. 

The UN fact-finding mission, headed by former Finnish president Martti 
Ahtisaari, is scheduled arrive in Israel today or tomorrow. The UN agreed to 
delay the mission's departure by 24 hours after Israel said that the government 
needed to hold further discussions on the matter, and that this could not be 
done during the Sabbath. 

Rejecting Israel's position, UN officials insist that the Jenin investigation 
team's report will include recommendations, rather than just a clarification of 
the facts of past events. Also, the report will be submitted to Israel 
concurrent to its delivery to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan; Israeli 
officials had asked that Jerusalem be provided a copy of the document before it 
is handed over officially to Annan. 

It is not yet clear whether Israel's request that IDF soldiers accompany the UN 
team during its visit of the refugee camp will be approved. 

One of the participants in recent meetings between members of the Israeli team 
and UN officials described these sessions as "direct and conducted without 
tension." This source indicated that understandings reached in these 
discussions make clear that the UN has "made an effort to comply with Israel's 
demands." 

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan phoned Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last night, 
and discussed work procedures to be followed by the UN fact-finding team. 

A senior diplomat in New York reiterated to Ha'aretz yesterday that the 
understandings and clarifications reached in discussions between the UN 
officials and the Israel team indicate a UN effort to respect Israel's 
positions. "We are interested in gathering facts, not drawing conclusions," the 
diplomat stated. 

Sources explained that the thrust of agreements worked out between Israel and 
the UN is that no legal use will be made of evidence compiled in the Jenin camp 
investigation. "We are not investigators - we only want to gather facts," the 
diplomatic source said. "Information culled from testimony will not be used as 
materials against Israeli officers and soldiers." 

Such assurances mean that Israeli soldiers who testify to the UN panel will 
have legal immunity, sources said. 

Sources in New York relayed yesterday that the UN has indicated that its review 
will be limited to the Jenin camp. 

The team's three primary members are former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari; 
Sadako Ogata, former UN High Commissioner for refugees who is Japan's special 
envoy on Afghan reconstruction, and Cornelio Sommaruga, former president of the 
International Committee of the Red Cross. A source in New York told Ha'aretz 
yesterday that a legal adviser from Denmark has been added to the UN team. 
Source: Ha'aretz 


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