In Unprecedented Step, Israeli Minister Bars Palestinian Governor of Jerusalem's Work

Move comes after Justice Ministry opinion approval, although law only says public security minister can ban events and says nothing about banning individuals' activities

Adnan Ghaith and an Israeli policeman during a court hearing, 2018.
Mahmoud Illean/AP

Israel's Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan took the unprecedented step on Monday of banning the Palestinian Authority’s governor for Jerusalem from conducting any activity on behalf of the PA in the city. Erdan’s order states that Adnan Ghaith cannot hold meetings, gatherings or conferences in the city related to the PA.

Erdan issued the order following recommendations from the Shin Bet security service and the police, and with the approval of the Justice Ministry. According to Public Security Ministry sources, the minister was presented with intelligence linking Ghaith to the PA’s operations inside Israel. If Ghaith violates the order and carries out political activities on the behalf of the PA, Israel could begin criminal proceedings against him.

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The order was issued based on a law implementing the Oslo Accords in 1994, which gave the public security minister the authority to limit or prevent actions on the part of the PA inside Israel. Erdan has previously issued orders banning the holding of events connected to the PA, but this was his first order forbidding the actions of a person representing the PA.

The order was issued after the Justice Ministry released a legal opinion on the matter, even though the law does not explicitly state that such an order can be issued against an individual.

Ghaith’s lawyer, Rami Othman, said the order violates his client’s rights and and that a suit will be filed against it with the Jerusalem District Court. “This is an unprecedented order, and because the state is unable to bring any concrete evidence against his activities, they invent new and draconian orders to limit him as much as possible,” said Othman.

“How can a person be banned from meeting with, talking to people? This has no precedent. This is someone who was declared the governor of Jerusalem on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, a position that has existed since 1994. The police are trying to harass him as an extension of its improper actions in recent months because of instructions they received from the Shin Bet, because to issue administrative orders based on secret information is the easiest thing.”

Ghaith was appointed governor a year ago, and has been arrested seven times since then. In all but one of the occasions, the judges rejected the police’s requests to extend his detention. Ghaith has previously had restrictions placed on him through administrative orders, which have banned him from entering the West Bank and meeting with certain people.