23 April 2002

The UN Fact-Finding Team
(Communicated by the Defense Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Minister of Defense, Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, spoke yesterday evening (22 April) with the UN Secretary-General, Kofi Annan, after the Secretary-General announced the appointment of the fact-finding team studying the events at the Jenin refugee camp.

During their conversation, Minister Ben-Eliezer protested the fact that the team was nominated without any prior coordination with Israel, as had originally been agreed.

The Minister of Defense asked the UN Secretary-General to include the American General, General Nash – whom the Secretary-General had originally nominated as an advisor to the team – as a full member and active participant on the delegation. Minister Ben-Eliezer emphasized that the change was desirable, in view of the broad security context that the team had to be conscious of.

In his conversation with Mr. Annan, the Minister of Defense also requested that the team not deviate from its mandate, as a fact-finding team clarifying the events at the Jenin refugee camp.

The Minister of Defense also described the anger in Israel concerning the remarks and the conduct of Terje Larsen, who deviated from his position as an official envoy of the UN.

This notwithstanding, the Defense Minister emphasized that Israel will present all the facts and the whole truth regarding the events in the Jenin refugee camp. Ben-Eliezer stated, "I am convinced that our presentation will tear apart the Palestinian masquerade of lies, and will expose the behavior of the terrorists which runs contrary to the most basic moral and legal standards of conduct, and the truth will ultimately triumph".

Following the request of the Minister of Defense, the Secretary-General agreed to include General Nash as a full and active member on the fact-finding team.