Israel shuts down East Jerusalem event in French center over alleged ties to PA

Participants in event deny association is funded by the Palestinian Authority; diplomatic source says French consulate views the closure ‘seriously’

The French Institute in East Jerusalem (Facebook photo)
The French Institute in East Jerusalem (Facebook photo)

Israeli authorities entered a French culture center in Jerusalem on Thursday to cancel an event, alleging it was to involve an association supported by the Palestinian Authority, a diplomatic source said.

In a rare move, police entered the center in East Jerusalem, the source with the French consulate said.

An order posted on the door of the building said that the center, which is connected to the French foreign ministry, intended to host an event organized with a women’s association “sponsored or financed by the Palestinian Authority” and “without authorization.”

The center remained open after the police operation.

Israel banned the Palestinian Authority from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem in 2001, in accordance with the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip that prohibits the PA from operating in Israeli territory.

The consulate could not confirm if the association was indeed financed by the PA, but Palestinians who were to participate in the event said the allegation was false.

After police arrived, France’s consul general immediately protested against the action at an institute “belonging to our diplomatic and cultural network,” the diplomatic source said.

The consul called on police “to leave the location,” and security forces left in the late morning, the source said, adding that the consulate took the incident “seriously.”

Police did not immediately respond to a request for comment, while Israel’s Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

According to the association that was to participate in the event, its director and a volunteer were briefly detained.

“It was an event related to Mother’s Day” and to sell crafts made by women from Jerusalem, said one of the women who was to participate, declining to give her name.

Similar events occur on a near-monthly basis, she said.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the Six Day War of 1967 and later extended sovereignty over it in a move never recognized by the international community.

It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

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