The Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee today informed the
Palestinian side that it is suspending its work due to Israel's refusal
to cooperate with the Committee. This announcement comes on the eve of
marathon talks between Palestinians and Israelis at Taba, Egypt.
Minister of Culture and Information, Yasser Abed Rabbo, responsible
relations with the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, expressed
his anger and disappointment stating, "Israel's tactics are to prevent
an objective and thorough investigation into the cause of the current
crisis and into Israel's systematic violations of Palestinian human
rights. This latest decision by the Committee demonstrates that these
tactics are working."
The current crisis, which has claimed the lives of 341 Palestinians,
was sparked by Likud leader Ariel Sharon's provocative visit to the
Haram al-Sharif on September 28, 2000. International and regional
leaders attending the Sharm El-Sheikh Summit in October 2000
unanimously endorsed the establishment of an international committee to
investigate the root causes of the recent clashes and recommend ways to
bring an end to the violence.
"Once again, Israel is demonstrating its defiance of the international
community by refusing to cooperate with this international Committee.
Israel must not be allowed to dictate or change the terms of this
Committee's work," said Minister Abed Rabbo.
The Committee's investigation has been hampered since last Monday when
Israel announced the end of its formal cooperation with the Committee,
citing the Committee's unaccompanied visit to the Haram al-Sharif as
the reason. In response to Israel's decision, the Committee announced
on Thursday that it was delaying the trip of its 5-member delegation to
the region for three weeks. The Committee has not indicated when it
will resume its investigation.
This week, Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced its
unwillingness to cooperate with an inquiry set up by the United Nations
Human Rights Commission to investigate the violence.
Minister Abed Rabbo added, "This latest Israeli action casts serious
doubt upon its intention to negotiate in good faith."
Minister Abed Rabbo called upon the international community to
intervene to ensure the prompt resumption of the Committee's work: "It
is imperative that the international community immediately renew its
support for this international inquiry."