EU urges Israel to let Palestinians reopen e. J'lem offices

PLO headquarters and Arab Chamber of Commerce in east Jerusalem shut down by police during Second Intifada for fronting illegal activities.

August 17, 2011 20:28
1 minute read.
Police guard Orient House in e. Jerusalem in 2001

Orient House 311. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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The European Union on Wednesday called on Israel to allow the Palestinians to reopen offices in east Jerusalem which were closed by the Public Security Ministry in 2001 on the grounds that they were fronts for illegal activity by the Palestinian Authority. The original closure order has been extended every six months by the Public Security Ministry since 2001.

"The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah deeply regret the recent Israeli decision extending once again the closure order against the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce," a statement said, referencing the local headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Arab Chamber of Commerce in east Jerusalem.

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"The EU firmly believes that these institutions should be allowed to re-open and resume their operations as focal points for Palestinians in east Jerusalem," an EU statement said. "The EU urges Israel to reconsider the closure and to fully review its decision," it added.

Israeli police shut down the institutions in 2001, shortly after the launch of the Second Intifada.

Last week, the EU spoke out against Interior Minister Eli Yishai's decision to approve construction of 1,600 apartments in the northeast Jerusalem haredi neighborhood of Ramat Shlomo.

European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said she "regrets" hearing of Eli Yishai's decision about the Ramat Shlomo construction, saying that such moves threaten the two-state solution.

The EU official said in a statement that she deeply regrets receiving "information of the publicly stated intention of the Israeli government to continue settlement expansion in east Jerusalem," noting that the EU has "repeatedly called on Israel to end all settlement activity."

Herb Keinon contributed to this report

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