Public security minister nixes PA education minister’s East Jerusalem visit

Charging that Oslo Accords prohibit official PA activity in Jerusalem, Gilad Erdan raps ‘continuing attempts’ by Palestinians to show presence in city

Sue Surkes is The Times of Israel's environment reporter

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at a Likud party conference in Lod on December 31, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan at a Likud party conference in Lod on December 31, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Monday barred the Palestinian Authority’s Education Minister from visiting a private Christian school in Jerusalem’s Old City, saying the Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords prohibited any official activity by the PA in Jerusalem.

Sabri Saidam had planned to visit the Terra Sancta School, where he would deliver an address and speak to the media, Erdan’s office said in a statement, crediting Jerusalem police intelligence for the information.

He was set to come with Samir Jibril, who is responsible under the PA for schools in East Jerusalem and additional senior PA officials, the statement said.

“In light of this grave case, and in accordance with his authority to prevent all official activity by the PA in the sovereign territory of Israel, Minister Gilad Erdan decided to sign an injunction preventing the visit.”

Erdan’s office said that the planned visit was part of the “continuing attempts by the PA to strengthen its status in Jerusalem and demonstrate its presence on the ground.

Palestinian Authority Education Minister Sabri Saidam. (YouTube screenshot)

“These attempts have been made more often recently, and the Israel Police and Minister Erdan act time after time to prevent them.”

The statement quoted Erdan as saying: “The battle for our sovereignty in Jerusalem isn’t over. The PA, together with additional elements, are trying to undermine it and to harm, and eat away at it every day and I will continue to act with all my strength to prevent this and demonstrate our sovereignty in every part of our capital.”

The ban on the PA minister’s visit came just a day after Christian leaders in Jerusalem closed the Holy Sepulchre Church until further notice to protest Israeli policies.

East Jerusalem was captured by Israel from Jordan during the June 1967 Six Day War, after which it was put under Israeli law and administration and integrated into a single, Israeli city through the extension of municipal boundaries. It was annexed by Israel in 1980 in a move the international community did not recognize.

The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as their own and see it as the capital of any future Palestinian state.

The Israeli-Palestinian Oslo Accords signed in the 1990s postponed discussion about the status of Jerusalem — a discussion that to date has not taken place.

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