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Annan to confer with Security Council on UN mission to Jenin

Annan to confer with Security Council on UN mission to Jenin

Kofi Annan speaking to the press
United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan said today he was awaiting the meeting of the Security Council later in the day before making the final decision about the UN fact-finding team to the Jenin refugee camp in the West Bank.

Speaking to reporters this morning as he entered UN Headquarters in New York, the Secretary-General said it was “also possible that I may get some news from the Israeli side between now and noon when the [Security] Council meets, so I will have to see how the Council discussion is going.”

“I have indicated to [the Council] my inclination, and I will discuss it further with them,” Mr. Annan said, referring to yesterday’s briefing to the Council by Kieran Prendergast, the Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs, in which he said the Secretary-General was “minded to disband” the team.

The team, which has been working since last week in Geneva while awaiting the green light to travel to the Middle East, had been scheduled to arrive in the region on Sunday.

Commenting on the matter yesterday evening, the Secretary-General told reporters it was important for him to seek the Council’s advice about the fact-finding mission “and move ahead with whatever decision I take.”

In explaining his reasoning for possibly aborting the mission, Mr. Annan said that in the present circumstances, “I cannot keep these gentlemen and women sitting in Geneva, and we will have to draw the consequences and take action.”

He emphasized that while he understood Israel’s anxiety about the mission and concern that the team may broaden its mandate or that its findings may lead to legal charges, the UN has made it “quite clear” that the team was going specifically to find the facts and what they discovered would be used for its report and its report only.

“Despite these clarifications, we’ve not been able to really de-block the impasse, and so I have no choice but to share my feeling with the Council, and tomorrow is another day,” Mr. Annan said. “We will see how the Council reacts.”