FMs of countries comprising TIPH express regret at Israel’s decision to end its mandate

OSLO, Foreign ministers of Norway, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, which contribute civilian personnel to the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), expressed regret on Friday at Israel’s decision to end the mandate of the force and expel its 64 members after more than 20 years of monitoring in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron.

We regret the unilateral decision by the Israeli government not to renew the mandate of the force after 31 January 2019, they said in a joint statement. The Israeli decision to withdraw from the agreement with the PLO and thereby terminate the TIPH constitutes a departure from the Oslo II Accord of 1995. We took note that the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization which signed the agreement with Israel to establish TIPH on January 21, 1997) signed the agreement to renew the TIPH mandate. We are prepared to continuing the Mission if requested by both parties.

TIPH was established following the massacre of 29 Palestinians at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron at the hands of a Jewish settler with a non-binding mission to monitor Israeli behavior with Palestinians in Hebron and report it to their respective countries.

Since the UN Security Council adopted resolution 904 in 1994, calling for a temporary international presence in the occupied Palestinian territory, the situation in Hebron remains tense and fragile, said the statement.

We are concerned that the Israeli government’s decision undermines one of the few established mechanisms for conflict resolution between Israelis and Palestinians and may therefore have a negative impact on the situation. In this regard, we stress Israel’s obligations under international law to protect the people in Hebron and in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory, and its duty to ensure accountability for violations thereof.

The foreign ministers rejected claims made by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that his decision not to renew the force’s mandate was because it worked against Israel’s interest, stressing that such claims are unacceptable and ungrounded.

It said TIPH had diligently fulfilled its mandate as requested by both parties, and thus contributed to preventing violence and promoting a feeling of security for the population in Hebron. For the past 22 years, both parties have renewed the TIPH’s mandate every sixth months. The contributing countries have supported the Mission to fulfill its mandate at the parties’ request, and in the parties’ interest. We therefore strongly object to any claim that the TIPH has acted against Israel. Such claims are unacceptable and ungrounded.

The statement called on the international force to close down in an orderly, safe and dignified manner within a realistic timeframe, calling on Israel and the Palestinian Authority to assist and facilitate the TIPH through this process.

The statement also urged the Palestinians and Israel “to make progress towards a peaceful settlement of the conflict and to resolve all outstanding issues. Only a negotiated two-state solution can create a durable peace between the parties, with Israel and Palestine living side by side in peace and security within internationally recognized borders.”

The statement was signed by Ine Eriksen SA�reide, Norway, Enzo Moavero Milanesi, Italy, Margot WallstrAlm, Sweden, Ignazio Cassis, Switzerland and Mevlut Cavu?o?lu, Turkey.

Source: Palestinian News & Info Agency