east Jerusalem 370.
(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich ordered the closure of the annual
Palestinian Children’s Week puppet show, scheduled to take place this week in
east Jerusalem’s el-Hakawati Theater, due to illegal sponsorship of the event by
the Palestinian Authority (PA).
According to the ministry, PA sponsorship
of events in Israel, including east Jerusalem, without prior approval from the
Israeli government is considered a violation of the 1994 Oslo
Performances for the festival, now in its 18th year, were
scheduled for eight days through June 30. The show’s director Abdel Salam said
the performances were apolitical and called its cancellation “simply
unbelievable” in a Tuesday interview with the Ma’ariv
is no political content in the plays and the shows that were supposed to be
staged at the festival,” he told the paper. “We are accused of political
activity even though these are just children’s plays.”
This year’s event
was scheduled to include performances from Arab-Israeli theater groups, as well
as performers from France, Turkey and Norway, according to Salam.
written statement by Aharonovich issued to the theater’s staff, the minister
explained the rationale behind the cancellation.
“It has come to my
attention that between the dates of June 22 and June 30 the theatre is scheduled
to hold events within ‘Palestinian Children’s Week’ at el- Hakawati Theatre in
Jerusalem and these events will be held with the Palestinian Authority’s
sponsorship or on its behalf, without having received written authorization for
this as required,” the letter stated.
“Therefore, by the power vested in
me by law, I hereby instruct not to hold the events here or in any other
location within the State of Israel.”
Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Yosef Alalu
condemned the cancellation as “wrong and irresponsible” in a letter to
Aharonovich, noting the already heightened tensions between Jews and Arabs in
“[The cancellation] only increases the hatred and anger of
the east Jerusalem public towards us,” his letter stated, according to
The ministry issued a subsequent statement stating that it is
“not opposed to artistic and cultural activities for east Jerusalem children, as
long as they are conducted according to law,” it said.