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U.N. Fact-Finding Team to Jenin May Be Disbanded

Aired April 30, 2002 - 12:11   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
BILL HEMMER, CNN ANCHOR: Want to keep it now trained on the Middle East, specifically that refugee camp in Jenin. It has been a quite contentious point between the U.N. trying to put an investigative team on the ground inside that refugee camp and what Israel now says and has been saying for some time that the way the team was made up was simply unfair and stacked against essentially the Israeli perspective.

To the U.N. where there are developments on this now and Richard Roth.

Richard, good afternoon, what do you have for us?

RICHARD ROTH, CNN SENIOR U.N. CORRESPONDENT: Good afternoon, Bill.

That U.N. fact-finding team that was supposed to go to Jenin may not be going anywhere. The team may be disbanded. It's the leading option now for U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the diplomat who put together this team.

Annan's senior political aide, Kieran Prendergast, is inside the U.N. Security Council right now, and according to diplomat, he told the Security Council there are two options facing Annan, to keep the team in Geneva right now, which the diplomat said the U.N. aide said was not very practical, or to disband the team. And that is -- quote -- "Annan's preference right now."

This team has been sitting in Geneva, Switzerland for more than six days doing some work but nowhere near getting to the Jenin refugee camp. Israel has problems with the makeup, mandate, the mission, the scope of this team, even though Foreign Minister Shimon Peres of Israel at one point had told Secretary-General Annan by phone Israel had nothing to hide and it would welcome a representative. Then Israel had problems with the expansion of the team, which includes three veteran diplomats in the lead -- Bill.

HEMMER: And, Richard, when you say the team might be disbanded, does that suggest that it may never happen if indeed these team members are essentially released?

ROTH: That's very true. If Israel was to express some cooperation and the Palestinians to cooperate with a new team, then something could be reformed, but that would have to be unlikely at this moment. There are other investigative teams, human rights groups, that are combing through Jenin now, nothing, though, with the stamp of the United Nations and the international arena.

Secretary-General Annan said to -- this morning entering headquarters, he's done everything and now he was just waiting for the latest official response from Israel. There have been four different postponements now by Israel, requests for delays for this mission. U.N. countries here from the Arab world are outraged. They may push in the Security Council for resolutions; however, Israel has not complied with other resolutions regarding troop pullouts from Palestinian cities. The U.S. has favored this fact-finding mission.

HEMMER: It was just yesterday where Kofi Annan said it was urgent to get that team on the ground ASAP, but apparently with this news, Richard, we'll track it and see if indeed it takes place.

Richard Roth at the U.N., keep us posted.

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