From email@example.com Wed May 8 07:30:14 2002
Date: Tue, 7 May 2002 22:44:26 -0500 (CDT)
From: MichaelP <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: US blocked Jenin mission, says Israeli leader
The Israeli prime minister, Ariel Sharon, went out of his way to embarrass the divided US administration yesterday, openly thanking the Americans for scuttling the proposed UN investigation of Palestinian deaths in the West Bank town of Jenin.
His remarks were made only hours before he met George Bush in the White House.
There are sharp differences between Israel and the US about the role of Yasser Arafat and Saudi Arabia in future peace negotiations.
The US secretary of state, Colin Powell, played an important part in setting up the Jenin mission, in response to Palestinian claims of a massacre. It collapsed last month, because of Israeli opposition, before it even reached the West Bank.
Addressing the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish American pressure
group, Mr Sharon hinted heavily that the Bush administration had
ultimately helped block the inquiry.
No nation in the world has the
right to bring Israel to court, he said.
I would like to thank the American administration and its
leadership that helped us, understood us, and supported us to get out
of this trap.
The speech put the administration in an awkward situation by suggesting that the US had acted privately to thwart a mission it supported in public.
Denying Mr Sharon's claim would anger the fervently pro-Israel Congress, which is currently debating whether to increase the annual $2.8bn subsidy to Israel.
There was no immediate US response to Mr Sharon's comments yesterday,
but a diplomat watching the speech said that state department
officials present turned
dour when they heard them.
UN officials said the US had initially proposed a fact-finding mission principally as a means of heading off a security council resolution establishing a full investigative commission. But as opposition in the Israeli defence force became clear and the Israeli foreign minister, Shimon Peres, dropped his initial support, the US envoy to the UN, John Negroponte, distanced himself from the idea.
Kofi Annan, the UN secretary general, was left
baby, a UN official said.
He read the writing on the wall and
pulled the plug.
Another diplomat at the UN headquarters in New York agreed.
think the US were out to get Sharon off the hook, but once it was
clear he was not going to accept the mission, they may have tried to
use it to get a package out of him.
Mr Sharon used his visit to Washington and his fifth meeting with Mr Bush to press for Mr Arafat's future exclusion from the peace process, arguing that he had supported terrorism.
The Israeli delegation arrived brandishing documents which it claims prove Mr Arafat's sponsorship of terrorist attacks.
Mr Sharon advocated a regional peace conference which he would attend, but not the Palestinian leader.
Mr Powell, meanwhile, is making plans for an international meeting of foreign ministers this summer, which would exclude Israeli and Palestinian leaders and therefore sidestep the personal animus between them.
Mr Bush and Mr Sharon were reported to have discussed the reconstruction of the Palestinian Authority in the wake of the Israeli offensive, but once again Mr Arafat's role was at the heart of the discussion.
The US accepts the Palestinian leader as indispensable to peace, but the Israeli prime minister has made it clear that he envisages a reconstructed authority without him.
A responsible Palestinian Authority that can advance the cause of
peace should not be dependent on the will of one man, he said.
The Israelis angered their American hosts by accusing Saudi Arabia of funding suicide bombers and the Islamist militant group Hamas, while the Saudi foreign minister, Prince Saud al-Faisal, was holding talks with the US administration, which has en thusiastically backed the regional peace proposal put forward by the Saudi leadership.
We can't figure out what they're up to, the US press quoted a
senior administration official as saying.
We need the Saudis right
now. They need the Saudis right now. This doesn't make sense.
Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi ambassador to the US, called the
totally baseless and false and accused Israel of
trying to distract attention from the peace process.