Talk of deal as UN gives up on Jenin investigation

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The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, gave up his efforts last night to send a fact-finding mission to the Jenin refugee camp, after allegations of a massacre of civilians there by Israeli security forces.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, he said the proposed three-person team would be disbanded today. The team had first been appointed by Mr Annan two weeks ago, amid Israeli promises of co-operation. But Israel then changed its mind, alleging the group would be biased against it.

"It seems evident that the team will not be able to proceed to the area to begin its mission in the near future," Mr Annan said, after intensive consultations yesterday with the US and Israeli governments – fuelling speculation his decision was part of a package, embracing the Israeli pullback from Ramallah and the transfer of six Palestinian prisoners to US and British supervision.

The team was to have been headed by the former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari, along with two former senior Red Cross and UN officials. But despite subsequent additions of a senior US military officer as an adviser, Israel would not be satisfied.