Israel disagrees with fact-finding commission's composition

In the late hours of Tuesday, Israel officially stated its disagreement with the composition of a UN commission on the investigation into recent events in a refugee camp located outside the town of Jenin. Yehuda Lancri, the Israeli representative in the UN, has told about such a decision of his government to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan. In accordance with the UN Secretary-General's decision, the commission was to be headed by former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari. It was also to include former UN High Commissioner for Refugees Sadako Ogata and former head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Cornelio Sommaruga. The commission's mission is to verify Palestinian allegations that Israeli soldiers staged a "carnage" in the refugee camp in Jenin. As a result, hundreds of people died. The Israelis, in their turn, claim that this might refer only to tens of killed emphasising that the overwhelming majority of corpses retrieved in the destroyed camp were in the Palestinian military uniform. The Israelis have always been insisting that the commission should not include politicians, nor human rights advocates, but military experts and those specialising in fighting against terrorism. The Israeli side believes that these people will better understand actions of Israeli troops in Jenin. According to the Israelis, this camp virtually was "wasps' nest" of terrorists. The Israeli side also insisted that American General William Nash was included into the commission. According to the Israeli mass media, in 1996, he was the commander of an international peacekeeping contingent in Bosnia, in 2000, he had an administrative post in Northern Kosovo. On Tuesday, it seemed that all disagreements relating to the commission's composition, were settled. Nevertheless, the Israeli cabinet took a decision not to agree with the commission's composition following a night-long discussion. The Israeli leadership addressed Kofi Annan to postpone the commission's departure to Jenin until the UN Secretary-General met an Israeli delegation, which was expected to arrive in the USA in the late hours of Wednesday. It seems Kofi Annan has decided to take into account the Israeli position. At the same time, he stated that he would not discuss with the Israelis the members of the commission adding that the proposal to include experts into the commission was worth considering. This fact-finding team, in case it does arrive, is most likely to be provided with video footages, which as it turns out, were taken in detail not only in the camp, but from helicopters as well. Meanwhile, a spokesman for the US Department of State has reportedly called the Israeli disagreement with the UN commission's composition a mistake.

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