Gov’t cancels e. J’lem children’s puppet festival due to PA sponsorship

Jerusalem Deputy Mayor: Cancellation increases hatred and anger of the east Jerusalem public against us.

east Jerusalem 370 (photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
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 Accords.
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 newspaper.
“There 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.
In a 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 capital.
“[The cancellation] only increases the hatred and anger of the east Jerusalem public towards us,” his letter stated, according to Ma’ariv.
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.