The United States blocked a draft of a United Nations Security Council statement on Wednesday that would have expressed regret at Israel’s decision to eject a foreign observer force from Chevron, diplomats said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week he would not renew the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), accusing the observers of unspecified anti-Israel activity.
Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, said on Thursday: “There is no place in Israel or anywhere in the world for an international force to harm the country in which it operates. Instead of maintaining order and neutrality, TIPH observers used violence, created friction with the civilian population, and interfered with security forces.
“The United States stands by Israel’s right to not renew TIPH’s mandate and to act on its own accord to ensure stability, without the help of a violent, biased international force. That the Palestinians want to maintain violent observers in Hebron attests to their intent.”
Norway, which has headed the multi-country observer mission for the past 22 years, said, “The one-sided Israeli decision can mean that the implementation of an important part of the Oslo accords is discontinued.”
The 15-member U.N. Security Council discussed Israel’s decision behind closed doors on Wednesday at the request of Kuwait and Indonesia, which also drafted the statement. Such a statement has to be agreed by consensus.
U.N. diplomats said the United States did not believe a council statement on the issue was appropriate.
The draft statement, seen by Reuters, would have also recognized the importance of the TIPH and its “efforts to foster calm in a highly sensitive area and fragile situation on the ground, which risks further deteriorating.” The United States has long accused the United Nations of anti-Israel bias and shields its ally from Security Council action.
Chevron is home to a community of about 1,000 Israelis who are guarded by a large military presence.
The TIPH was set up in 1994. The city has seen stabbing and shooting attacks against residents and Israeli soldiers by Palestinians. Since Israel partially withdrew from Chevron in 1998 under interim peace deals with the self-ruled Palestinian Authority, the TIPH has monitored “breaches of the agreements [and] violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law,” the force’s website says.
Updated Thursday, February 7, 2019 at 1:58 pm added statement