A Federal Foreign Office Spokesperson issued the following statement today (1 February) on the decision by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to extend the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) multilateral observer mission:
The Federal Government regrets Israel’s decision not to extend the TIPH observer mission after over 20 years.
TIPH was part of an international framework to contain and resolve the Middle East conflict to which the parties agreed at the beginning of the Oslo Process. This framework is now being disbanded without any replacement.
The presence of the observers in Hebron – a place where the violent consequences of the conflict are particularly tangible – has enhanced transparency and helped to de-escalate the situation. As an independent mission accepted on both sides, the observers have worked to prevent hostilities between Palestinians and Israeli settlers as far as possible.
Everything possible must now be done to ensure that the discontinuation of the observer mission does not lead to an escalation of violence in Hebron.
Following the murder of 29 Palestinians by the Jewish settler Baruch Goldstein on 25 February 1994 at the Ibrahimi Mosque/Tomb of the Patriarchs and further violence in Hebron, the United Nations Security Council called for protective measures for the Palestinian civilian population, including an international presence, in its Resolution 904 of 18 March 1994. The first observer mission, launched in May 1994, was not extended after three months.
In implementation of the Oslo Agreement of 1995, Israel and the PLO agreed on 21 January 1997 to the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, with the aim of promoting “a normal life in the city of Hebron, thus creating a sense of security among the Palestinians in Hebron” through monitoring and reporting. On 28 January 2019, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that he would not be renewing the mandate beyond 31 January. Observers from Norway, Italy, Turkey, Sweden and Switzerland are currently involved in the mission.