Israel closes PA-funded TV station, Palestinian education office in Jerusalem

Director of the al-Araz production company that hosts Palestine TV temporarily arrested; correspondent for the channel summoned for questioning

Illustrative. Israeli Border Police in East Jerusalem, on May 18, 2018. (AP/Mahmoud Illean/File)
Illustrative. Israeli Border Police in East Jerusalem, on May 18, 2018. (AP/Mahmoud Illean/File)

Israeli authorities closed several Palestinian organizations in Jerusalem Wednesday, including a television channel, an Israeli minister and officials from the organizations said.

The offices of Palestine TV — a channel funded by the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority — and an office of the Palestinian Ministry of Education were given orders to close for six months, staff members said on condition of anonymity.

The director of the al-Araz production company that hosts Palestine TV was temporarily arrested, while a correspondent for the channel was summoned for questioning, Palestinian sources said.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan confirmed the closure of offices used by Palestine TV and the Ministry of Education.

“I will continue to pursue a firm policy against any attempt by the Palestinian Authority to violate our sovereignty in the capital,” Erdan said in a statement seeking to justify the closures.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at the Israel Police Independence Day ceremony at police headquarters in Jerusalem on May 5, 2019. (Flash90)

Israel regularly raids offices or other buildings used by the PA in East Jerusalem, which Israel sees as infringing on its sovereignty over the city. Israel says East Jerusalem is part of its undivided capital, while Palestinians claim it as the capital of their future state.

Erdan also accused Palestine TV of producing anti-Israel content in which the country is presented as “responsible for war crimes and ethnic cleansing.”

The Palestinians condemned the closures.

PLO official Hanan Ashrawi (Ahmad Gharabli/Flash90)

“This is a continuation of the Israeli government’s campaign against everything Palestinian in occupied Jerusalem,” senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi said.

MADA, a Palestinian organization that defends freedom of expression, said the closures were “part of Israel’s efforts to silence the media and prevent the Palestinian story from spreading, through a series of repressions against the media and journalists.”

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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