UNITED NATIONS, May 4: Condemning the Israel’s rejection of the UN fact-finding mission to Jenin, Ambassador Nasser Al-Kidwa, the observer for Palestine, on Friday asked the Security Council to press the secretary-general to dispatch the team immediately, and require the two sides to cooperate with it.

Speaking at the extended debate of the Security Council on the situation in Middle East and Palestine, Mr Al-Kidwa said the Arab Group had tabled a draft seeking to press ahead with the Jenin mission which, unfortunately, did not gain enough support in the face of opposition by a permanent member of the Council, the United States.

“The backtracking by the Security Council in the face of Israeli rejection will constitute a genuine scandal,” he said, adding that it was “an abdication on the part of the council of its responsibilities, in addition to the serious political and operational implications on the ground.”

Israel’s position towards the team “proves beyond any doubt that the Israeli occupation forces have indeed committed unspeakable atrocities against our people, especially in the refugee camp Jenin,” Mr Al- Kidwa said.

The demolition of homes — in some cases when civilians were still inside — as well as the obstruction of medical services and the use of human shields, he stressed, “constitute crimes of war.” What remained was to establish their scope. “The world must examine these crimes, and get to the bottom of the facts in full, and must adopt necessary measures in order to prosecute the war criminals,” he said.

Israelis ambassador Yehuda Lancry said the Council’s resolution on the team had not stipulated that it reach any legal conclusions or make recommendations. “In calling for an examination of the events, Israel did not think it too much to expect that the team address the activities of both sides, including the use of a UN-administered camp as a centre for terrorist activity.”

ANNAN: UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan expressed his bitter disappointment over Israel’s rejection of Jenin mission which it had approved in the first place.

“I think it would have been much better for everyone if they had gone in to clarify issues,” Mr Annan told reporters after he briefed the Security Council on the Washington meeting of the Quartet. “As it is, I think the long shadow which has been cast over Jenin will be with us for a while.”

Mr Annan and his top envoy for the Middle East peace process told the correspondents that they were pleased by the results of Thursday’s meeting in Washington of the diplomatic “Quartet” composed of the UN, the United States, the Russian Federation and the European Union.

“I’m encouraged by what happened in Washington,” Mr Annan said.

The special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, Terje Roed-Larsen, who accompanied Mr Annan at the Quartet talks and the Council briefing, said: “For the first time in a very long time, the conference in Washington on Thursday produced a beam of hope, and we haven’t seen that for a very, very long time in the Middle East.”

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