Norwegian Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide .
(photo credit: KUHLMANN / MSC / WIKIMEDIA COMMONS)
Israel's decision to eject observers in Hebron may be a breach of the implementation of the Oslo accords, the Norwegian foreign minister said on Tuesday.
"The one-sided Israeli decision can mean that the implementation of an important part of the Oslo accords is discontinued," Foreign Minister Ine Eriksen Soereide said in a statement to Reuters.
"The situation in Hebron is unstable and characterized by conflict," she said, adding that the end of the observer mission, which Norway has led for the past 22 years, was therefore "worrying."
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to oust international observers from Hebron in late January, thereby breaking a 22-year agreement that has helped hold in place the 1997 division of the city between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
The observer force, known as the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH), operates under a mandate that is renewed twice a year by both sides.
“We will not allow an international force to act against us,” Netanyahu said in a statement to the press.
Writing for the Jerusalem Post,
Former spokesman for the Jewish community of Hebron David Wilder
said that "TIPH’s goals included not only Hebron."
"Their long-term objective was to act as an “observer” organization throughout all of Judea and Samaria," he said, "at numerous junctures during various “peace talks,” the idea of an international force patrolling Judea and Samaria was on the table – not only as neutral observers, but also armed."
Reuters, Tovah Lazarof contributed to this report.