IDF Civil Administration official, Palestinian governor 370.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In an unprecedented move, the Palestinian Authority in Bethlehem Monday issued
an order banning Palestinians from dealing directly with the Israel-Palestinian
District Coordination Office (DCO), saying that from now on they could work only
with the Palestinian Liaison Office [with Israel] to seek various
The order, signed by Abdel Fatah Hamayel, PA governor for
Bethlehem, threatened punishment for any individual or institution dealing
directly with the DCO.
On Sunday, Hamayel issued an order banning the
entry of Israeli agricultural goods into Bethlehem “to protect Palestinian
The DCO offices were established as part of the 1994 Cairo
Agreement between Israel and the PA. Their mission was to coordinate and monitor
the movement of Palestinians into and out of, as well as within, the West Bank
and Gaza Strip.
Palestinians who want to enter Israel for work, medical
treatment or family visits are also required to apply through the DCO offices in
“It is completely forbidden to deal directly with the Israeli
side,” Hamayel warned. “This decision is in the context of preserving the public
and national interests, and for the convenience of all Palestinians.”
governor explained that the ban had been instituted “in light of Israel’s
efforts to undermine the PA and its institutions.” He claimed that Israel was
using the DCO offices to “infiltrate Palestinian society.”
defense officials said they became aware of the order through the media and that
the Civil Administration had not heard of the ban through official PA channels.
They said Hamayel was likely trying to solidify the PA’s institutional control
in Bethlehem but that the DCO would continue to work and coordinate with
Palestinian businessmen in the city.
“The DCO is used to coordinating
with the PA and local residents and businessmen, and we will continue to do so,”
one official said.