The United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres hopes an agreement can be reached to protect Palestinians in the occupied West Bank after Israel said it would suspend the mandate of an international observation mission.

UN spokesperson Stephane Dujarric on Saturday said Guterres was “grateful” to the five countries that contributed to conflict prevention and the protection of Palestinians under the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) for the past 22 years, namely Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Italy and Turkey.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he was taking the decision as a result of the TIPH’s alleged bias.

The Palestinian officials labelled the move a “green light” for Israeli settlers in the city to carry out abuses.

“I think nations should stand tall against this,” PLO Secretary-General Saeb Erekat said on Wednesday.

On Friday, the five TIPH countries condemned in a joint statement the Israeli government’s unilateral decision not to extend the observer force’s mission in the flashpoint city.