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30 Jan, 2019 22:11

Israeli expulsion of observers from Hebron a ‘wicked’ decision – former UN rapporteur

Israeli expulsion of observers from Hebron a ‘wicked’ decision – former UN rapporteur

A former UN envoy on Palestinian affairs has condemned a decision by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to expel international observers from the West Bank city of Hebron, a hotspot of Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

John Dugard, an international law professor who previously served as special rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council concerning Palestinian affairs, described the decision to expel the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) as “wicked.”

“The situation in Hebron is very volatile,” he told RT, adding that TIPH “have kept the peace there quite successfully” even as tensions continued to rise between Palestinians and Jewish Israeli settlers.

The observers have “always played an important role in keeping the peace in Hebron and one cannot imagine Hebron without the presence of TIPH. This will be seen as a green light to the settlers to undermine and to violate the rights of the Palestinian people in Hebron,” he said.

The-64-member mission has been present in Hebron since 1994. While Palestinians make up the majority of the city’s population, the Israeli military have been controlling parts of the city since 1997 in a bid to protect settlers.

On Monday, Netanyahu announced that he would refuse the observers from continuing their mission, accusing them of acting against Israel’s interests. It follows calls from right-wing politicians in Israel’s Parliament to expel TIPH “from the city of our forefathers.”

Dugard was one of several voices to condemn Tel Aviv’s decision, with Palestinian official Saeb Erekat calling on the UN to “guarantee the safety and protection” of Palestinians until an end is brought to Israel’s “belligerent occupation.”

While criticizing TIPH for being a “toothless” organization, Ali Abunimah of Electronic Intifada tweeted it did “document occupier crimes” in the city.

Last month, a highly critical internal report from the body was leaked to Israeli newspaper Haaretz. It cited a “severe and regular breach” of Palestinian human rights in the city and slammed Israeli settlements there as a violation of international law.

“One cannot imagine what will happen," after the mission leaves Hebron, Dugard warned, "as the settlers are very violent and determined to make the lives of Palestinians hell."

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