PLO’s Erekat urges 'int’l protection' for Palestinians
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Tuesday called for "international protection" for the Palestinian people until Israel's decades-long occupation has ended.
Erekat made the appeal in response to an Israeli decision not to extend the mandate of the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH).
"We call on the UN to guarantee the safety… of the Palestinian people, not only by ensuring the continued presence of TIPH in Hebron, but also by deploying a permanent international presence in Occupied Palestine, including East Jerusalem, until the end of Israel's belligerent occupation," Erekat said in a statement.
On Monday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would not renew the mandate of the TIPH, which was first dispatched to the West Bank city of Hebron (Khalil) in 1994.
By contrast, the Ramallah-based Palestinian Authority last week approved the extension of the TIPH's mandate for a further six months.
Composed of 64 international observers from five European countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Italy) and Turkey, the TIPH was established by UN Security Council Resolution 904.
That resolution was adopted following Hebron's 1994 Ibrahimi Mosque massacre, when Jewish extremist Baruch Goldstein gunned down 29 Palestinian worshippers.
Resolution 904 also called on the Israeli authorities to confiscate weapons from West Bank Jewish settlers with a view to preventing them from committing further crimes against Palestinians.
But according to Erekat, "Israel has never honored either the international will or law".
"Just yesterday, Netanyahu again confirmed to the settler movement that even Israeli colonial installations, considered illegal by Israeli law, would not be removed," he said.
"Israel's decision not to renew the TIPH's mandate… is another step towards Israel's full nullification of all signed treaties, including the  Oslo Interim Agreement," he added.
The decision, Erekat added, "further consolidates Israel's colonial enterprise and represents another step towards the 'de jure' annexation of additional areas in the Occupied State of Palestine".
Hebron is currently home to some 160,000 Palestinian Muslims and about 500 Jewish settlers. The latter live in a series of Jewish-only enclaves heavily guarded by Israeli troops.