The US blocked a draft United Nations Security Council statement yesterday from issuing a statement that would have expressed concerns over Israel’s decision to expel the international observatory task force that has been monitoring the situation in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron for 20 years.
The 15-member UN Security Council discussed Israel’s decision behind closed doors at the request of Kuwait and Indonesia, which also drafted the statement. Such a statement has to be agreed unanimously.
UN diplomats said that the US had blocked the statement saying that they did not believe a council statement on the issue was appropriate.
The draft statement, seen by Reuters, would have also recognised the importance of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) and its “efforts to foster calm in a highly sensitive area and fragile situation on the ground, which risks further deteriorating.”
The proposed statement also intended to express the Security Council’s “regret” about Israel’s “unilateral decision” to eject the force from occupied Hebron and call for “calm and restraint”.
The TIPH was set up after a Jewish settler, Baruch Goldstein, massacred 29 Palestinians in 1994 at the Ibrahimi Mosque during the holy month of Ramadan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said last week he would not renew the mandate of TIPH accusing the observers of unspecified anti-Israel activity. His decision heightened Palestinian concerns over their safety. Palestinian residents of Hebron regularly come under attack from illegal settlers and Israeli occupying forces. They often say that they are living under an apartheid Israeli system. The Old City of Hebron is completely divided through the presence of barriers, closures, military zones and settlements, to accommodate some of Israel’s most extreme settlers.
The Palestinian Authority (PA) echoed the concerns and called for a UN protection force to ensure the safety of Palestinians until Israel ends its “belligerent occupation”. The UN should “guarantee the safety and protection of the people of Palestine” until “the end of Israel’s belligerent occupation,” said Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.