RAMALLAH, March 14, 2017 (WAFA) – Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi Tuesday condemned “in the strongest terms,” Israel‘s storming and closure of the Arab Studies Society‘s Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department in East Jerusalem and the arrest of its director Khalil Tufakji, as well as the willful confiscation of the department‘s property, stressing that closure of East Jerusalem’s Palestinian institutions prejudges its fate.
Israeli police raided the premises of the mapping department in Beit Hanina neighborhood after Israel‘s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan issued an order to shut down the department for six months.
Police seized computers, equipment and document and arrested Tufakji, who was held and interrogated for several hours before he was released.
“Such premeditated actions are part of Israel‘s ongoing policy that targets and closes Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem, particularly the Orient House, the official address of the PLO and the headquarters of the Palestinian negotiation team, and the Chamber of Commerce; these acts are in direct violation of Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres‘ promise to Norwegian Foreign Minister Johan Holst in October 1993 that he will ‘not hamper’ the activities of the Palestinian institutions. It should also be mentioned that in the same letter, Peres wrote, ‘I wish to confirm that the Palestinian institutions of East Jerusalem and the interests and wellbeing of the Palestinians of East Jerusalem are of great importance and will be preserved’,” said Ashrawi, who called for the immediate and unconditional reopening of the department and the return of its property.
“Clearly, Israel is prejudging the fate of Jerusalem and continuing the illegal annexation and ethnic cleansing of the city with the expansion of its illegal settlement enterprise in and around Jerusalem, the confiscation of Palestinian land, the summary execution of Palestinian civilians, the demolition of Palestinian homes, and the eviction of the Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the revocation of their IDs, among other flagrant violations. Such unlawful measures are in direct breach of signed agreements and international law and conventions,” she said.
Ashrawi concluded, “This is a direct affront to the new American administration and the international community at-large. It is imperative that they, along with the United Nations and the European Union, act immediately and put an end to Israel‘s illegal unilateralism and system of occupation and apartheid.”