Israel shuts down Jericho DCO

Reinforces measures to cut all ties with the PA following Hamas's rise to power.

Pa police 88 (photo credit: )
Pa police 88
(photo credit: )
Palestinian officials at the Jericho District Coordination Office (DCO) folded their flag and left their offices on Monday afternoon. The IDF demanded the closure earlier in the day, as part of Israel's decision to cut all ties with the Palestinian Authority following Hamas's rise to power. The decision was made following the government's resolution to reinforce its measures against the new Hamas-led Palestinian government, declaring it a "hostile entity" and ruling out contacts, including peace talks with Palestinian Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. "It is important to note that all civilian functions of the civil administration will be unaffected by the change, which pertains to security coordination alone," said an IDF spokesperson. The declaration by the Israeli Security Cabinet rejected the idea of using Abbas to bypass the new government and boosted Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's plan to impose a border in the West Bank by 2010. The recommendation came amid increasing IDF pressure on Hamas in response to Palestinian rocket fire into southern Israel. On Sunday Olmert placed a ban on meetings with Hamas officials and he even forbade Israeli representatives from consulting with foreigners who maintained contacts with the PA. The aim of the initiative was to isolate Hamas from the international community, much in the same way as Yasar Arafat was isolated by Ariel Sharon's government at his Mukata compound in Ramallah in 2004. The DCO is a joint Israeli-Palestinian civil administration for the territories, and is one of the strongest bureaucratic links between Israel and the PA. The government also decided on Sunday that it would ban the building of PA infrastructure which would serve to "elevate the Hamas-led government." However, Israel would not forbid construction for humanitarian purposes, for example the building of hospitals. Meanwhile, the Foreign office and world Jewish organizations were pressing for a cancellation of Hamas's invitation to the "European Council" assembly, set to convene next week in France. MKs Yuri Shtern, Colette Avital and Michael Eitan, who were all invited to the convention, announced that although they would still attend the gathering, they would avoid all contact with Hamas representatives.