Security Council discusses Hevron observers

UN Security Council discusses Israel's decision to end TIPH mandate, faces resistance from the United States to any response.

Ben Ariel,

TIPH activists in Hevron
TIPH activists in Hevron
Dan Rabbenheimer/TPS

The UN Security Council on Wednesday discussed Israel's decision to end an international observer force in Hevron but faced resistance from the United States to any response, diplomats said, according to AFP.

Kuwait and Indonesia requested the closed-door meeting to raise concerns after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced last week that he would not renew the mandate of the 64-member team, saying, "We will not allow the continued presence of an international force acting against us.”

The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established in the city in 1994.

Council president Anatolio Ndong Mba, the UN ambassador for Equatorial Guinea, told reporters after the meeting that the countries "exchanged different views" about Israel's decision.

"There was almost unanimity in the concern for the situation," said Mba, who was asked by the council to meet the Israeli and Palestinian Arab ambassadors to discuss the situation.

Kuwait and Indonesia, two non-permanent council members, proposed a draft statement expressing regret about Israel's "unilateral decision" and calling for "calm and restraint" in Hevron, according to the text seen by AFP.

The proposed statement stressed "the importance of the mandate of the TIPH and its efforts to foster calm in a highly sensitive area and fragile situation on the ground, which risks further deteriorating, as reflected in the escalating cycle of violence."

The text warned Israel that it has an obligation under international law "to protect the Palestinian civilian population in Hebron" as well as the rest of the “occupied territories”.

Diplomats said they expected the United States, which has repeatedly defended Israel's policies at the United Nations, to block the proposed response. Council statements require unanimous approval.

The US mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment.

Israel’s decision to remove the Hevron observers was criticized by Norway, whose foreign minister suggested the move was in violation of the Oslo accords.

France’s foreign ministry criticized the move as well, saying that Israel’s decision “could potentially heighten tensions on the ground in an already precarious security context in Hebron, while Israel pursues its settlement policy in the city and in the rest of the West Bank and Jerusalem. France regrets this decision and calls on Israel to reexamine it.”

Turkey also blasted Israel’s decision and called on it to reverse the move.

TIPH has a unique status, despite being a non-governmental organization funded by six countries: Sweden, Turkey, Switzerland, Norway, Denmark and Italy.

Unlike other NGOs, the organization's observers received updates and had regular meetings with representatives of the defense establishment, and they had free access to every place in Hevron, both on the Jewish side and on the Arab side.

The TIPH took advantage of the situation to support the Palestinian narrative. Recently, the existence of a book sold by the organization to Hevron terrorists was revealed. The book states, among other things, that the British Mandate for Palestine ended because of "a series of Zionist terror operations."

In 2011, one of the force monitors was caught violently assaulting a soldier who refused to allow him to pass through the checkpoint to the Jewish area of Hevron in the middle of the Sabbath. In this case, no significant step was taken.

In July, a TIPH member who took part in a tour of the Breaking the Silence organization in Tel Rumeida in Hevron slapped a 10-year-old Jewish boy. The member was arrested and forced to leave Israel by the Foreign Ministry.

A few weeks later, Netanyahu ordered the TIPH commander to be summoned for clarification by the Foreign Ministry following publication of footage on Arutz Sheva in which foreign observers are seen puncturing the tires of a car belonging to Jewish Hevron resident of Elad Fass.




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