This morning, Israel’s Occupation Forces raided the Issaf Nashashibi Cultural Center in Sheikh Jarrah, occupied East Jerusalem, and closed the launching of the new PLO – Negotiations Affairs Department publication entitled “Altering the Character of Jerusalem: The Forced Closure of Palestinian Institutions in Palestine’s Capital.” Diplomats from over 20 countries had confirmed their attendance to the event as well as representatives from Jerusalem’s civil society.
The Governor of Jerusalem Mr. Adnan Husseini strongly condemned the incident: “This is a reaffirmation of Netanyahu’s extremist statements and policies trying to alter the character of occupied Jerusalem turning it into an exclusive Jewish city. Under international law East Jerusalem is an occupied city, it’s the capital of Palestine and Israel has nothing to do there. Under signed agreements and obligations of the Israeli side, the PLO must continue to work in the city.”
Since 2001, Israel closed approximately 22 Palestinian organizations in occupied East Jerusalem, including kindergartens, charities, cultural, youth and service centers. Among the organizations closed were the Orient House (headquarters for the Palestinian negotiations team to the Madrid Peace conference) and the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce. According to the Road Map, endorsed by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1515, Israel should reopen the “Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other closed Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem based on a commitment that these institutions operate with prior agreements between the parties.” On October 11, 1993, following the signature of the Oslo Agreement, Israeli Foreign Minister at that time Shimon Peres issued a letter of assurances stating that:
“ I wish to confirm that the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem and the interests and well-being of Palestinians of East Jerusalem are of great importance and will be preserved. Therefore, all Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem, including the economic, social, educational, cultural, and the holy Christian and Muslim places, are performing an essential task for the Palestinian population. Needless to say, we will not hamper their activity; on the contrary, the fulfilment of this important mission of to be encouraged ”
Governor Husseini continued: “It is our right to work in East Jerusalem and we will continue to do so. Following the footsteps of Faisal Husseini, we will continue to call for the reopening of our national institutions in East Jerusalem. What has been done today by the occupation forces is part of the Government of Israel’s efforts to negate Palestinian rights and destroy the prospects of peace with a culture of hatred and incitement.”