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He also warned that a perception of U.N. partiality toward Israel would discredit peacekeeping efforts and tarnish the office of the secretary-general himself.

Mr. de Soto, who has served in various positions for the United Nations over the last 25 years, also had some harsh words about U.N. policy and organization in the Middle East.

He complained there were too many mediators and too little interest among the various players in coordinating strategy or sharing information.

As the secretary-general’s personal envoy to the Palestinian Authority, Mr. de Soto said he found himself irrationally and “immeasurably hampered” by restraints imposed by Mr. Annan, such as being barred from going to Syria or from having meaningful contact with the Hamas-led Palestinian government.

The United Nations pulled most of its people out of Iraq after a catastrophic bombing of its headquarters in 2003, but it maintains a high profile in the region.

It maintains three peacekeeping missions on Israel’s borders, has fed and housed Palestinian refugees in four countries and the Palestinian Territories since 1949, and runs development projects throughout the region.

The agency dealing with Palestinian refugees suspended its operations in the Gaza Strip yesterday after two of its aid workers were killed in factional fighting.

Mr. de Soto, in New York yesterday for a conference on Central America, said his assessment had been intended only for internal U.N. distribution.

“I did not imagine the report would be made public,” he told The Washington Times, “or I would not have been so candid as, in fact, I was encouraged to be.”

He said he had not received any response to his observations from either the United Nations or the United States. Mr. de Soto said he had nothing to add “because I think I said it all in that assessment.”