Palestinians have little faith in Hebron monitors

OUTSIDE Hebron's old city market yesterday the shopkeepers were waiting to greet their new 'guests' - an advance party of international observers, Norwegians, Danes and Italians, come to prepare for keeping the peace.

Raja Shweibi wanted them to see his clothes shop, closed now for 45 days as the result of a military order imposed after the Hebron massacre. And he wanted them to see the new cement wall outside his store, built by the army to block off the road. He suggested they should observe the Israeli soldiers lining the streets and preventing hundreds of Arab shopkeepers from reaching their stores.

Then there was Hebron's new Jewish enclave to observe, created by a military cordon thrown around five tiny Jewish settlements, housing about 400 Jews, in the heart of the old city. The shopkeepers yesterday explained how the streets running between the settlements, lined with Arab stores and homes, have been closed off and only Jewish settlers are allowed here. The observers could have seen the settlers yesterday strolling with guns and driving in military convoys in streets cleared of Arabs. And they could have seen the new 'two-lane' thoroughfare along one side of the Old City, with one lane for Arabs and another for Jews, with a high cement wall in-between.

But the 'guests' had not come to talk to the shopkeepers or observe their problems. The observers had been told by the Israelis that all was well in Hebron town-centre, and that life was returning to 'normal'.

'The centre of Hebron has been opened up today for the first time at our request,' said Knut Vollebaek, the Norwegian spokesman, on arrival at Hebron's outlying City Hall, clearly unaware that he had been hoodwinked. Most of the press, too, were absent from Hebron town-centre yesterday, banned by military order. 'We are happy,' Mr Vollebaek added, 'that the Israelis have agreed that normality should return. This is a good omen.'

The deployment of the foreign monitors in Hebron, agreed in the wake of the massacre, is being treated with scepticism by the Palestinians. They are to number just 160, half of whom will be administrative staff. No date has been set for deployment, and no terms of reference agreed. Not even the colour of their uniform has been decided, nor the location of their 'barracks'.

On the advice of the Danes, who have long experience in Bosnia, the group have decided not to bear arms, despite provision for each to carry a pistol for self-defence. 'We think we will be safer without a gun, and more respected perhaps,' said Hanning Jonsen, a Norwegian observer.

Among the Palestinians there are strong fears that the presence of the monitors will be used by the Israelis as a pretext to reinforce the status quo in Hebron, where the presence of settlers - 400 in the town-centre and about 5,000 in the nearby settlement of Kiryat Arba - is the cause of the strife.

The Jewish settlers have no intention of respecting the observers. 'I would not stop for anybody but a Jewish authority,' said Gideon Maraglit, an armed settler from the town-centre. 'We do not expect them to get in our way.'

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Property Manager

£13000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Junior Property Manager in a yo...

Recruitment Genius: Web Development Manager

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: Service and Installation Engineer

£22000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Recruitment Genius: SEO / Outreach Executive

£20000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Our client is a global marketin...

Day In a Page

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

A timely reminder of the bloody anniversary we all forgot

Who remembers that this week we enter the 150th anniversary year of the end of the American Civil War, asks Robert Fisk
Homeless Veterans appeal: Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served

Homeless Veterans appeal

Former soldiers pay their respects to a friend who also served
Downfall of Dustin 'Screech' Diamond, the 'Saved By The Bell' star charged with bar stabbing

Scarred by the bell

The downfall of the TV star charged with bar stabbing
Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Why 2014 was a year of technological let-downs

Security breaches and overhyped start-ups dominated a year in which very little changed (save the size of your phone)
Cuba's golf revolution: But will the revolutionary nation take 'bourgeois' game to its heart?

Will revolutionary Cuba take 'bourgeois' golf to its heart?

Fidel Castro ridiculed the game – but now investment in leisure resort projects is welcome
The Locked Room Mysteries: As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor Otto Penzler explains the rules of engagement

The Locked Room Mysteries

As a new collection of the genre’s best is published, its editor explains the rules of engagement
Amy Adams on playing painter Margaret Keane in Tim Burton's Big Eyes

How I made myself Keane

Amy Adams hadn’t wanted to take the role of artist Margaret Keane, because she’d had enough of playing victims. But then she had a daughter, and saw the painter in a new light
Ed Richards: Parting view of Ofcom chief. . . we hate jokes on the disabled

Parting view of Ofcom chief... we hate jokes on the disabled

Bad language once got TV viewers irate, inciting calls to broadcasting switchboards. But now there is a worse offender, says retiring head of the media watchdog, Ed Richards
A look back at fashion in 2014: Wear in review

Wear in review

A look back at fashion in 2014
Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015. Might just one of them happen?

Ian Herbert: My 10 hopes for sport in 2015

Might just one of them happen?
War with Isis: The West needs more than a White Knight

The West needs more than a White Knight

Despite billions spent on weapons, the US has not been able to counter Isis's gruesome tactics, says Patrick Cockburn
Return to Helmand: Private Davey Graham recalls the day he was shot by the Taliban

'The day I was shot by the Taliban'

Private Davey Graham was shot five times during an ambush in 2007 - it was the first, controversial photograph to show the dangers our soldiers faced in Helmand province
Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Revealed: the best and worst airlines for delays

Many flyers are failing to claim compensation to which they are entitled, a new survey has found
The stories that defined 2014: From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions

The stories that defined 2014

From the Scottish independence referendum to the Ice Bucket Challenge, our writers voice their opinions
Stoke-on-Trent becomes first British city to be classified as 'disaster resilient' by the United Nations

Disaster looming? Now you know where to head...

Which British city has become the first to be awarded special 'resilience' status by the UN?