Israeli Minister Blocks Women’s Day Event in East Jerusalem, Citing Palestinian Authority Ties

The organizers, from a civil society NGO, say they are not connected to the PA, and sought only to give local Palestinian women a needed respite.

Zahour Abu Miala and other organizers together with police at the Saint George Hotel in East Jerusalem, March 8, 2017.
Zahour Abu Miala and other organizers together with police at the Saint George Hotel in East Jerusalem, March 8, 2017. Emil Salman

Israeli police raided an East Jerusalem hotel on Wednesday to stop a cultural event for local Palestinian women, scheduled for International Women’s Day.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan issued an order preventing the performance, on the grounds that it was organized by the Palestinian Authority. After Erdan issued the order, policemen delivered it to organizers at the Saint George Hotel.

The event’s organizers denied that it was connected to the PA and stressed that its purpose was to give women living in East Jerusalem a break from the daily grind.

“There is a struggle over sovereignty in East Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority repeatedly tries to undermine Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem and I won’t allow that to happen,” Erdan said, adding, "Any attempt by the PA or other forces to gain a foothold in Israel will be blocked immediately.”

Zahour Abu Miala, the director of the women’s advocacy organization that sponsored the event, told Haaretz that “We just wanted to take women out of their difficult routines in order to enjoy a modest artistic performance – they won’t allow us even that.” She said that her group and the event had no connection to the Palestinian Authority.

“We are registered in accordance with Israeli law and all our activities are for women, especially in weaker segments of society in Eastern Jerusalem neighborhoods and the Old City."

 Abu Miala said she was surprised by the number of policemen who came to stop the event. “They came as if this was a war against criminals – they saw me holding flowers, and I tried telling them this was purely an event for women.”

The Public Security Ministry explained that Erdan’s decision was based on repeated attempts by the PA and Hamas to strengthen their hold in East Jerusalem. The minister recently extended the closure of Orient House, the PA’s former headquarters in East Jerusalem.