Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has decided to eject an international observer post aimed at safeguarding Palestinians in Hebron, a city in the occupied West Bank, accusing the mission of anti-Israel activity.
“We will not allow the continuation of an international force that acts against us,” Netanyahu said in a statement on Monday about the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH).
Netanyahu did not elaborate on the alleged misconduct of TIPH, which draws staff from Norway, Italy, Sweden, Switzerland and Turkey, nor did he say when he plans to expel them.
The agreement to deploy TIPH observers in Hebron was reached between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in 1994 after an Israeli settler killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque, a site that is holy to both Muslims and Jews, who refer to it as the Cave of the Patriarchs.
The group didn’t start its work in the city until 1998, however, after the Israeli army refused to leave Hebron following the establishment of an illegal Israeli settlement at the heart of the city.
TIPH’s latest mandate – it is deployed in renewable, six-month terms – is due to end on 31 January, Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz reported on Monday.
The group has not yet commented on Netanyahu’s decision.