Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad canceled his planned
participation in a PA dedication ceremony for two new schools set to
take place in east Jerusalem on Tuesday, despite previous assertions to the contrary.
City Hall was unaware PA to give millions to J'lem schools
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch signed an order
stating that Israeli law prohibits Palestinian Authority officials from
taking part in political activities within Israeli territory without
first obtaining special permission.
On Monday evening, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told security officials not to allow the PA to conduct ceremonies within Jerusalem’s municipal borders.
The measure underscores the sharp divide that exists between the PA and Israel on the issue of Jerusalem, and is likely to raise tensions between the two governments on the eve of Netanyahu’s trip to the United States next week.
Fayyad, who had been scheduled to rededicate two of 15 east Jerusalem schools the PA had secretly paid to renovate, originally said that he planned to go on with the ceremonies, a source close to him told The Jerusalem Post
“The prime minister hasn’t changed his plans,” the source said on
Monday. “We don’t know anything about an Israeli ban. We only heard
about it in the Israeli media.”
The revelation of the PA’s renovations drew condemnations from city
politicians, who accused the Palestinian body of flaunting its authority
within municipal Jerusalem in violation of the Oslo Accords.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel asked Jerusalem Police and Aharonovitch to stop the rededication
ceremonies, calling them “forbidden by law.”
On Monday, the leftist NGO Ir Amim said that the owner of the Yabous
hall in the northeastern Dahiyat a- Salam neighborhood, where one of the
rededication ceremonies was supposed to take place, received a notice
from the Public Security Ministry, warning that if the event went ahead,
the hall would be shut down for a year.
The announcement of the PA’s renovations came as a surprise to the municipality.
The 15 private schools do not receive funds from the municipality or the Education Ministry.
On Monday, Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat dedicated a new girls’ school in
the capital’s southeastern Ras al- Amud neighborhood, despite requests
from parents that the mayor not come.
That dedication ceremony was planned more than a month ago, and a
parents committee from the Silwan and Ras al-Amud neighborhoods said
they had known about it for at least two weeks.
Monday’s ceremony had “absolutely nothing” to do with Fayyad’s, municipal spokesman Elie Isaacson said.
The mayor plans to add 1,000 classrooms in east Jerusalem, and will be
presiding over dedication ceremonies every few months as new schools are
finished, he added.
“It’s one of his personal goals,” Isaacson said. “The mayor holds [the]
education portfolio himself because it’s something he cares about.”
“We are working hard to advance educational infrastructure in both the
east and west of the city,” Barkat said in a statement. “We are building
new schools, we will introduce new educational programs and we’ll
continue to work hard to further advance Jerusalem schools and their
Parents of the students were less than enthusiastic about the mayor’s visit.
Musa Abasi, president of a parents committee that represents 5,000
students at schools in Silwan and Ras al- Amud, said that their
relationship with the municipality is “calm,” but that he would have
preferred that the mayor skip the official visit.
“He really didn’t need to come right now. We have a situation in Silwan
that’s a little difficult, so I asked for him not to come now,” Abasi
told The Jerusalem Post
. “But he said, no, right now is exactly when I want to do it.”
Parents were not invited to the dedication ceremony.
This is the second time the mayor has presided over a school dedication
ceremony in east Jerusalem, Abasi said. The first one was over a year
ago, at an Arab school near the northeast Ramot neighborhood, and that
visit was also unpopular.
“The parents don’t want him to come, but if he’s going to come, what am I going to say, no?” Abasi asked.
The school dedicated Monday cost NIS 30 million and serves 900 girls
from grades seven to 10. It includes 26 classrooms, laboratories,
computer labs and a library. The school was a joint project by the
municipality and the Education Ministry.
JPost.com staff contributed to this report.