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US resists UN action on Hebron mission: Diplomats

AFP , Wednesday 6 Feb 2019
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The UN Security Council on Wednesday discussed Israel's decision to end an international observer force in the occupied West Bank city of Hebron but faced resistance from the United States to any response, diplomats said.

Kuwait and Indonesia requested the closed-door meeting to raise concerns after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced last week that he would not renew the mandate of the 64-member team.

The Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) was established in the city following a massacre of Palestinians in a mosque by a Jewish settler in 1994, but Netanyahu accused the force of bias.

Council president Anatolio Ndong Mba, the UN ambassador for Equatorial Guinea, told reporters after the meeting that the countries "exchanged different views" about Israel's decision.

"There was almost unanimity in the concern for the situation," said Mba, who was asked by the council to meet the Israeli and Palestinian ambassadors to discuss the situation.

Kuwait and Indonesia, two non-permanent council members, said they would propose a draft statement expressing concern but it appeared unlikely that such a move would win approval from the United States, diplomats said.

Council statements require unanimous approval.

The US mission to the United Nations did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Kuwait's Ambassador Mansour al-Otaibi said the council would discuss a proposed visit to the Israeli occupied territories for a close-up look at the situation on the ground.

The Norway-led Hebron mission is comprised of unarmed observers tasked with promoting a sense of security for Palestinians in Hebron, the largest city in the West Bank.

On Friday, the foreign ministers of Italy, Norway, Switzerland, Sweden and Turkey, which contribute observers to the Hebron mission, issued a joint statement expressing regret over the Israeli decision.

At least 600 armed Jewish settlers live under heavy military guard in the city, which is home to around 200,000 Palestinians.

Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and a major obstacle to peace, as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

*This story ws edited by Ahram Online

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