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Turkey slams Israel for ousting Hebron observer force

Israeli claims that international monitors in Hebron work against Israel are baseless, says Foreign Ministry
Palestinian worshippers can be seen outside the Ibrahimi mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron [Najeh Hashlamoun/Apaimages]
Palestinian worshippers can be seen outside the Ibrahimi mosque in the West Bank city of Hebron [Najeh Hashlamoun/Apaimages]

Turkey strongly condemned Israel on Friday for its decision to terminate the mandate of international monitors in the West Bank town of Hebron.

"We strongly condemn Israel's unilateral termination of the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), the multilateral observation mission in Hebron, Palestine," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement, calling for a reversal of the decision.

The ministry decisively rejected Israel's claims that the group was working against Israel and accused the Israeli government of using the claims as a rationalisation for its decision.

"The TIPH, in which observers from Turkey have participated since it started operations in 1997, has made valuable contributions to easing the tension in Hebron under Israeli occupation," the ministry added.

The circumstances in Hebron leading to the establishment of the TIPH still exist, the ministry said.

"Within this context, it is clear that the termination of the TIPH does not end Israel's accountability or its obligations under international law, first and foremost from the Fourth Geneva Convention," it added, calling on the international community to guarantee Israel's compliance with these obligations.

The ministry said Turkey supports a two-state solution based on the 1967 borders between Israel and Palestine and "will continue to closely monitor the situation in Hebron with this understanding".

Norway: Israel removal of international observers from Hebron may breach Oslo Accords

EU and Germany also criticise decision

Maja Kocijancic, the European Union's spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy/European Neighbourhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said in a statement that the decision "risks further deteriorating the already fragile situation on the ground".

"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," she said.

Germany also criticised Israel's decision not to renew the mandate.

"The TIPH was part of an international framework to contain and solve the Middle East conflict on which parties had agreed at the beginning of the Oslo process," Germany's Foreign Ministry said in a statement, adding:

Now this framework is breaking down, without having any other substitute

Berlin said it was worried about growing violence in Hebron and urged all parties to do everything to prevent this from happening.

Fatah: Israel planning for a second massacre in Hebron

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