In an emergency meeting Sunday, the United Nations Security Council decided to give U.N. officials and the Israeli government more time to reach agreement on a fact-finding mission to investigate Israel's military assault on the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank.
The Security Council met after the Israeli government again denied the U.N. fact-finding team permission to enter the West Bank. The investigating team has been waiting in Geneva since Wednesday.
Arab members wanted to push for another Security Council resolution demanding the Israelis allow the mission to go forward. But U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan asked for another 24 hours to break the impasse, while the Israeli cabinet takes up the issue again. The Council agreed.
Russian Ambassador Sergei Lavrov, the current president of the Security Council, said Council members remain firm on fully implementing the resolution that set up the fact-finding team. "They [the Security Council] are concerned at the continued delay in the arrival of the fact-finding team," he said. "They strongly support the Secretary General in his efforts to insure the immediate deployment of the fact- finding team to Jenin with full cooperation of Israel and the Palestinian Authority."
The Israelis gave a green light to the the U.N. fact-finding mission on April 19, saying they had nothing to hide. But after Secretary General Annan announced the members of the team three days later, Israel asked for a delay to make changes in their agreement. Palestinians accuse the Israeli army of a massacre of its civilians. Israel says its army fought intense gun battles with Palestinians gunmen, who they claim were the main victims in the incursion.
Mr. Lavrov said the Security Council expects positive news concerning the fact-finding team by Monday.