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EU: 'Israeli decision to expel TIPH risks deterioration of situation'

Feb. 3, 2019 11:00 A.M. (Updated: Feb. 4, 2019 1:26 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The European Union criticized the Israeli decision not to renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), a civilian monitoring team of 64 people from five European countries, stressing that the team “has played an important role in preventing violence between Palestinians and Israeli settlers in Hebron.”

The EU spokesperson said in a statement that cancelling the role of the TIPH “risks further deteriorating the already fragile situation on the ground.”

The spokesperson said, “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 spokesperson reiterated the EU policy “strongly opposed to Israel's settlement policy which is illegal under international law and an obstacle to peace,” noting that 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 fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ended the mission of TIPH in the southern occupied West Bank city of Hebron, created by an agreement between the Palestinians and Israel over 20 years ago after an Israeli soldier and settler shot dead 29 Palestinians while performing dawn prayers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in the Old City of Hebron.

Foreign ministers of the five European countries, Norway, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, also criticized the Israeli decision in a joint statement, saying “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.”

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