Israel extends closure of Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem

Public security minister says he signed the order to stop any attempt by the Palestinian Authority to gain a foothold in the city

Orient House in East Jerusalem, October 14, 2007 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
Orient House in East Jerusalem, October 14, 2007 (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Thursday signed an order extending the closure of a number of Palestinian institutions on the recommendation of the security services.

“Any attempt by the Palestinian Authority to gain a foothold in the territory of the State of Israel will be stopped immediately,” the minister said, according to Channel 12 news.

The order limits activities at Orient House, which served as the headquarters of the PLO in East Jerusalem, as well as other institutions including the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club, the East Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce, the Supreme Council for the Arab Tourism Industry, the Center for Palestinian Studies and the Office for Social and Statistical Studies.

“The extension of the closure of the Palestinian institutions is a message to the Palestinian Authority and the residents of East Jerusalem,” said Erdan.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan speaks at a ceremony for a new municipal police station in Beit Shemesh, January 7, 2019. (Yaakov Lederman/Flash90)

“The PA has recently been trying to strengthen its presence in East Jerusalem in sophisticated ways, including the transfer of significant funds for activities. Intelligence services and the police are constantly working to track these attempts and stop them. I will continue to strengthen Israeli sovereignty throughout Jerusalem, and prevent any Palestinian attempt to create a foothold in the eastern part of the city,” he added.

The operations of the Orient House, which is an icon of Palestinian presence in the city, were shut down by Israel in August 2001 in response to the Sbarro pizzeria bombing in Jerusalem in 2001, in which a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 15 people and wounded over 100.

Earlier this month, Erdan banned an event scheduled to take place at an East Jerusalem hospital because it was organized under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority.

The event was to have included “symbols of Palestinian sovereignty such as the playing of the Palestinian Authority national anthem, political speeches in the name of the Palestinian Authority and participation of senior Palestinians,” Erdan said at the time in a statement.

Referring to the 1994 Cairo Agreement that laid out the framework of Palestinian autonomy, Erdan’s ministry said the terms forbid the PA “from opening or operating a representative office or to hold gatherings of activities within the State of Israel, and empowers the public security minister to ban such events.”

In recent years, Erdan has issued a number of similar bans, including orders to stop a commemorative event in East Jerusalem financed by the PA, as well as a conference in the Silwan neighborhood that promoted a Palestinian takeover of East Jerusalem, the ministry said.

Both Israel and the Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital. Israel captured East Jerusalem in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it. It sees the entire city as its sovereign capital, while Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

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