BRUSSELS—The European Union said the recent decision of the Israeli government not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) ‘’ risks further deteriorating the already fragile situation on the ground.’’
In a statement issued Saturday, an EU spokesperson said the TIPH ‘’has played an important role in preventing violence between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in Hebron.’’
‘’In line with the statement issued by the contributing countries to the mission, the EU stresses Israel’s obligations under international law to protect the Palestinian people in Hebron, as well as in other parts of the occupied Palestinian territory,’’ the statement reads.
‘’As reflected in successive Foreign Affairs Council conclusions, the EU is strongly opposed to Israel’s settlement policy which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace,’’’ it says.
‘’The European Union will continue to engage with both parties and with its international and regional partners to support a resumption of a meaningful process towards a negotiated two-state solution, the only realistic and viable way to fulfil the legitimate aspirations of both parties.’’
Incidents in which TIPH staff members were caught on camera attacking Israelis
In announcing his decision to terminate the TIPH mandate, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared: “We will not allow an international force to act against us.’’
The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was first established in 1994 and has been operating continuously since the 1997 Hebron Agreement, which was signed by Netanyahu and former PLO leader Yasser Arafat. According to its website, the TIPH is a civilian observer force that “observes and reports on breaches of the agreements between the Palestinian Authority and Israel on Hebron, as well as on violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law.”
The TIPH consists of 13 local staff and 64 members who hail from Turkey, Switzerland, Norway, Sweden and Italy.
There has been growing pressure for Netanyahu to end the mandate of TIPH, which is renewed every six months, following two incidents where staff members were caught on camera attacking Israelis. The first showed TIPH’s legal counsel hitting a 10-year-old Jewish child across the face, while the second consists of a staff member slashing a tire of a Jew’s vehicle in the city.
Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, who has been urging Netanyahu to scrap the mission, said that TIPH members had “cooperated with extremist organizations and promoted delegitimization of Israel.”