Baker Reiterates U.S. Support of U.N. Investigation in West Bank
WASHINGTON (AP) _ Secretary of State James A. Baker III said Sunday the United States still supports having the United Nations investigate the treatment of Palestinians in Israel’s occupied territories.
Baker said the United States supports an investigation conducted in the West Bank and Gaza at the behest of the U.N. secretary-general. But he drew a distinction between a mission dispatched by the secretary-general and a mission sent by the U.N. Security Council.
″I hope that the Arab leadership and I hope that the government of Israel will both support the idea of sending an investigative mission from the secretary-general to the territories and report back,″ he said.
″That is something the United States will support, and I hope that we can see the parties come together on that,″ Baker said.
Baker’s comments on CBS-TV’s ″Face the Nation″ program came the day after the United States blocked an attempt by the Security Council to send a mission to the occupied territories.
Arab leaders were angered by the U.S. move at the Security Council meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, and they claimed Baker had reneged on a promise.
The United States objected to the investigative mission after Israel refused to accept any team sent by the Security Council.
Baker said Arabs ″must have misunderstood″ what they thought was his earlier backing of a Security Council investigative team.
Arab countries this week called for U.N. protection of Palestinians living in the occupied territories. At least 15 Palestinians have been killed in clashes with Israeli defense forces in the past week.
On Saturday, kidnappers holding two American hostages in Lebanon blamed the United States for the massacre of seven Palestinian workers in Israel on May 20. Israeli officials have said the accused gunman, a former soldier, apparently was deranged.
In a statement issued Saturday in Beirut, the Organization of Islamic Jihad for the Liberation of Palestine, vowed to make the United States and Israel ″pay the price″ for the killings. However, the group did not threaten hostages Jesse Turner and Allan Steen.
Meantime, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir reiterated his opposition to any U.N. peace-keeping forces or other observers in the occupied territories.
″I don’t think we need peace-keeping forces for having peace,″ he said. ″Our experience is that such forces are not bringing peace. They are causing tensions and not peace.
″We don’t need foreign military men to police the country, the area. We need peaceful talks. That’s all.″