DM Ben-Eliezer addresses letter to UN Secy.-Gen. regarding decision not to provide Israel with UNIFIL videotape
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)
Defense Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer today (Sunday), 8.7.2001, addressed a letter to United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan responding to the UN’s decision not to provide Israel with the UNIFIL videotape.
Following is the text of the letter:
Dear Mr. Secretary General,
I wish to acknowledge receipt of your reply, delivered via your Deputy for Peacekeeping Operations, to my request to receive the original video film taken by United Nations personnel the day after the abduction of three Israeli soldiers by Hizbullah terrorists.
I took note of your decision not to provide Israel with a copy of the video film and of your proposal that representatives of my Government view the film whilst still in United Nations possession. I have also noted the reasons for this decision and proposal.
In as much as we were pleased to learn that in its decision the United Nations took into consideration the plight of the families of the abducted Israeli soldiers, we found the viewing procedures detailed in your reply disappointing and disturbing. We believe that once the United Nations recognized the validity of the Israeli request, its decision not to hand over the original film to Israel is altogether puzzling and incongruous. It also raises doubts concerning the completeness of the video film.
Furthermore, we find the equal treatment you accord the Government of Israel and the Lebanese representatives to be inappropriate and inexplicable. Not only was Israel the only party to inquire about and request the video film, it was the victim of an unprovoked attack originating from Lebanese territory in clear breach of the Security Council resolution that Israel has fully endorsed and implemented. These were our, and not the other side’s, nationals who were abducted and it is these same soldiers who have been held incommunicado for some nine months in Lebanon. In this case, applying a symmetrical yardstick to both sides discriminates against the victim in favor of the aggressor.
The circumstances surrounding the shooting of the film on October 8, 2000, and the protracted withholding of information from Israel regarding its very existence, have raised serious concerns with my Government. The proposal provided by the United Nations does not, unfortunately, resolve these concerns. To bring the matter to rest, we, therefore, reiterate our earlier request that the United Nations releases the original video film in its entirety to the Government of Israel. This procedure alone will allow us to study the film – as we should have been offered to do long ago – with the thoroughness and expertise it deserves.
Moreover, your letter failed to address my request that the United Nations submit all other information available to it regarding the abduction of the Israeli soldiers. In view of the doubts relating to the conduct of UNIFIL and the United Nations’ Secretariat in this matter, we request that an inquiry be conducted forthwith in order to determine once and for all the facts known to the United Nations pertaining to the abduction of the Israeli soldiers and the delay in the United Nations Secretariat of advising Israel of these facts.
In conclusion, let me express our belief that a conscientious implementation of these steps is fully commensurate with the functions and accountability expected of the United Nations and will serve only to enhance its integrity.
Minister of Defense
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