Police Disperse PLO Event for Foreign Diplomats in East Jerusalem

PLO officials were supposed to meet with foreign diplomats, but the Oslo Accords prevent them from conducting political activities in Jerusalem.

Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson
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Israel Police Special Patrol Unit vehicles stationed near the Western Wall compound. February 25, 2014.
Israel Police Special Patrol Unit vehicles stationed near the Western Wall compound. February 25, 2014.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Nir Hasson
Nir Hasson

The police broke up an event for foreign diplomats sponsored by the Palestine Liberation Organization Thursday after Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch issued an order barring the East Jerusalem gathering.

In the past, Aharonovitch has issued similar orders blocking Jerusalem events associated with the Palestinian Authority or Hamas. The orders are based on the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, in which the PLO, representing the Palestinians, agreed that the PA wouldn’t conduct political activities in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians claim this provision doesn’t apply to the PLO, noting that PLO official Faisal Husseini – who also served as the PA’s minister for Jerusalem affairs – used to conduct activities in East Jerusalem even after the Oslo Accords were signed. But Israel generally doesn’t distinguish between the PLO and the PA, both of which are headed by the same person, Mahmoud Abbas.

East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel after the 1967 Six-Day War.Ironically, Thursday’s event, to which diplomats serving in East Jerusalem were invited, was to provide a forum for PLO officials to present a report on Israel’s closure of Palestinian institutions in the capital. It was slated for a Palestinian cultural center in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood. When the event got under way, a large contingent of police arrived and participants left quietly.

“On a day when the prime minister is talking about two states for two peoples, [Aharonovitch] issues an order to prevent the distribution of a report to foreign diplomats — simple public diplomacy that is protected as a fundamental right,” said attorney Mahmoud Dahla, who showed up in an effort to let the event continue.

“And the order is issued based on the law implementing the interim [Oslo] accords with the Palestinian Authority. What’s the goal of these agreements if not to establish a Palestinian state? It turns out there’s no limit to the abuse of a people under occupation, but now at least the diplomats will read the report.”

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