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Israelis to View UN Videotapes Wednesday - 2001-08-08

United Nations officials and Israeli diplomats have agreed on the ground rules governing the viewing of videotapes connected with the abduction of Israeli soldiers in Lebanon.

The delegation of Israelis reached a compromise with U.N. officials in which the Israelis will view the videos along with seven bloodstained articles related to last October's abduction of the soldiers. Israeli ambassador Yehuda Lancry told reporters that, after that initial viewing, arrangements for a second viewing will be made. "Then we will have to agree on the date in which the United Nations will permit the families of the abducted soldiers and a delegation of Israeli experts to proceed to the viewing of the videotapes and the items," he said.

One of those videotapes, recorded by U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon, shows Hezbollah militants as they demanded that the peacekeepers give up vehicles believed to have been used in the abductions. The United Nations will show the Israelis an edited version of that tape with the faces of the Hezbollah members obscured.

Israel has said the tapes and the physical items may be of some help in its investigation into the abductions. The United Nations has said it is allowing the tapes and the items to be viewed for humanitarian reasons but will not be put in the position of providing intelligence information Israel. To do that, U.N. officials say, would compromise the impartiality of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.