PA lunch in Jerusalem prompts police probe

Senior Palestinian Authority official questioned Thursday for hosting a delegation from the United Arab Emirates in the city.

merkel UAE 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
merkel UAE 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Jerusalem police questioned a senior Palestinian Authority official Thursday for hosting a delegation from the United Arab Emirates in the city. The delegation, which arrived in Bethlehem Wednesday to attend the PA's Palestine Investment Conference, was headed by Sheikh Muhammad bin Hamdan al-Nihayan, a member of Abu Dhabi's ruling family. Before attending the conference's opening session, the delegation's 30 members visited east Jerusalem, where they prayed at the Aksa Mosque. Israel has also permitted most of the businessmen and dignitaries attending the conference to pray at the mosque. After the visit to the Temple Mount, the guests were invited to lunch at an Arab-owned hotel by Hatem Abdel Qader, the Jerusalem Affairs Adviser to PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad. Abdel Qader told The Jerusalem Post that hours later he received a phone call from the Jerusalem police asking him to report for interrogation in the morning. He said that he was surprised to hear from the detectives that he had violated the law by inviting the UAE delegation to lunch. "They told me that because I was an official representative of the Palestinian Authority, I had violated the law that bans us from carrying out any activities inside Israel," he said. "Since when is a lunch considered a threat to Israel's security?" Abdel Qader said the interrogation at Jerusalem Police Headquarters in the Russian Compound lasted nearly three hours, during which he was told he might be brought to trial. He said it was ironic that he had been summoned for questioning even though the visit itself had been coordinated with the Israeli authorities. "The delegation entered Jerusalem under the protection of the Israeli police and not as thieves," he said. "The police even accompanied them to the Ambassador Hotel where we had lunch."