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UN team awaits word from Israelis on Jenin mission

Palestinians say hundreds died in fighting with Israeli soldiers in the Jenin camp


United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan has again sought Israeli approval for a fact-finding mission to Jenin following an emergency Security Council session.

The Israeli cabinet had issued a statement on Sunday that conditions had not yet been created to make it "possible to accept the fact-finding committee" into the Palestinian refugee camp in Jenin.

The 15-member Security Council had been on standby in case the mission collapsed, after Annan approved an earlier delay.

Meanwhile, Swiss team member and former Red Cross chief, Cornelio Sommaruga, would not confirm reports that the Israeli foreign minister, Shimon Peres, had told him the mission would be delayed indefinitely.

The Israeli government has raised a variety of objections since the UN mission was proposed earlier this month. Briefing reporters, the communications minister, Reuven Rivlin, said the UN inquiry "is out to get us and is likely to smear Israel."

The team planned to look into Palestinian claims that hundreds of Palestinians, many of them civilians, were killed during fierce fighting in the camp from April 3-11.

Israel, which lost 23 soldiers in the battle, says about 50 Palestinians died, most of them gunmen.

swissinfo with agencies

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