ISTANBUL: Turkey has “strongly” condemned Israel’s decision not to renew the mandate of an international monitoring group in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron.
“We strongly condemn Israel’s unilateral termination of the mandate of the ‘Temporary International Presence in Hebron’ (TIPH) ... and expect this political decision to be reversed,” the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement late on Friday.
The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established after a massacre of Palestinians in 1994.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Monday he would not extend its mandate, accusing it of bias. Ankara, however, dismissed the Israeli claim.
“We decisively reject the allegation that the TIPH has been working against Israel, which is presented by Israel as a justification for its decision.” In a series of Twitter posts on Saturday, Omer Celik, spokesman for the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), slammed the Israeli move as a “new step to cover up illegalities” and said it must be condemned.
“This Israeli step shows new aggressions are in the planning,” he said, urging the world “to be more careful” about the situation in Hebron.
Turkey has observers in the Norway-led team tasked with promoting security for Palestinians in Hebron, which is holy to both Muslims and Jews and has been a flashpoint in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian and European officials have also expressed concern and regret over the Israeli decision.
Published in Dawn, February 3rd, 2019