Last Monday, Norwegian foreign minister Jonas Gahr Store held official diplomatic talks with Palestinian Authority minister for Jerusalem Ahmed A-Rawidi and Rafik Husseini, chief of staff to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.
The meeting was the first that the Palestinian Authority has held in Israel’s capital for almost a decade.
Then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon closed down the PA’s Jerusalem headquarters, located in the Orient House, in 2001 as a response to the Second Intifada. Since then, it has been Israeli policy to prevent PA events and institutions from operating in the eastern half of the city.
Recently the European Union and the Russian Federation have requested that Israel reopen the Orient house.
When asked by Israel’s Channel 10 regarding the reopening of the Orient House, during a joint press conference with Store last Sunday, Foreign Minister Lieberman stated that “there will be no more gestures. There is simply no room to talk about opening Orient House, freezing the construction in Jerusalem or any additional gestures. Now is the time for a gesture from the Palestinians.”
Dr. Aaron Lerner, the director of IMRA (Independent Media Review & Analysis), told the Five Towns Jewish Times that the Palestine Liberation Organization, and by extension the PLO run Palestinian Authority, is banned by Israeli law from engaging in official activities within the municipal boundaries of Jerusalem.
According to Lerner, the laws banning the PLO from operating in Jerusalem were not amended following the Oslo accords, “nor did Israel enter into any written understanding with the PLO as a result of Oslo that abrogated that law,” he said.
When asked if they were aware that official meetings with Palestinian Authority figures are forbidden within Jerusalem, the Norwegian Embassy misleadingly stated that the their country’s ambassador was not present at the Augusta Victoria hospital and referred to a press release from the foreign ministry stating that the minister visited east Jerusalem, without any mention of Rafik Husseini, effectively denied that the meeting took place.
Further queries only resulted in Annika Evensen, the embassy’s first secretary, saying that she had “nothing to add to what is in the press release.”
According to Norwegian journalist Vidar Norberg, Store was welcomed to the hospital by Husseini, who compared Israeli policies to those of Apartheid South Africa and called for an international boycott of Israel goods.
Store held a press conference with the PA dignitary, complete with a podium and Norwegian and Palestinian Authority flags. Speaking to reporters, with the Gush Etzion city of Maaleh Adumim behind him, the foreign minister announced that Mahmoud Abbas’ goal is a peaceful and negotiated settlement of the Middle East conflict.
However, Abbas stands accused of inciting terrorism by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Palestinian Authority president was quoted in Al-Hayat Al-Jadida on January 17th defending his government’s decision to name a square in Ramallah after Dalal Mughrabi, a terrorist guilty of 37 counts of murder.
“Norway considers the Israeli presence in East Jerusalem to be in violation of international law, as does the entire international community,” Store said
LEGAL BASIS FOR CLOSING PALESTINIAN OFFICES IN JERUSALEM
Aaron Lerner 5 August,1996
The following is an English translation provided by the Foreign Ministry of
the law which serves as the legal basis for the closing of Palestinian
offices in Jerusalem.
LAW IMPLEMENTING THE AGREEMENT ON THE GAZA STRIP AND THE JERICHO AREA
(RESTRICTION ON ACTIVITY) 1994
Purpose of the Law: 1. The purpose of this law is to ensure compliance with
the undertaking of the Palestine Liberation Organization (hereinafter “the
PLO”) concerning the restriction on the activity of the Palestinian
Authority to the areas of Gaza and Jericho in accordance with the Agreement
and to prevent activity of a political or governmental nature or other
similar activity within the area of the State of Israel which does not
accord with respect for the sovereignty of the State of Israel by the
Palestinian Authority or the PLO, without the agreement of the State of
2. “meeting” – includes a march, assembly or congress; “the Agreement” –
the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area signed at Cairo
between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization on 4
May, 1994. “the Palestinian Authority” and “the areas of Gaza and
ericho” – as defined in the Emergency Regulations (Judea and Samaria and
the Gaza Strip – Jurisdiction over Offences and Legal Assistance) 1967;
“Representative Mission” – includes any institution, office or branch.
Restriction on the Palestinian Authority:
3.(a) The Palestinian Authority shall not open or operate a representative
mission, and shall not hold a meeting, in the area of the State of Israel
unless written permission for this has been given by the State of Israel or
by someone authorized by it to do so;
(b) The Minister of Police may, by means of an order, prohibit the opening
or operation of a representative mission of the Palestinian Authority,
order its closure, or prevent the holding of a meeting, if permission has
not been obtained in accordance with sub-paragraph (a).
(c) Orders referred to in sub-paragraph (b) shall be served, insofar as
possible, on the owner of the premises, or the occupier, or the organizers,
or whoever it seems to the Minister of Police is responsible for the
activity which is the subject of the order;
Where it is not possible to serve the order as aforesaid, the Minister of
Police shall give instructions for its publication in a manner which he
shall establish; A notice concerning the giving of the order shall be
published in the Official Gazette.
Restriction on the activity of the PLO:
4.(a) The Government may, by means of an order, the activity prohibit the
opening or the operation of a representative mission of the PLO, order its
closure, or prevent the holding of a meeting on behalf of the PLO or under
its auspices within the area of the State of Israel.
(b) The provisions of paragraph 3(c) above shall apply, with the necessary
changes, to an order referred to in sub-paragraph (a) above.
Duration of order:
5. The duration of a closure order issued pursuant to paragraphs 3 or 4
shall not exceed 6 months and may be extended from time to time for an
additional period which shall not exceed 6 months at any one time.
6. For the purpose of executing orders pursuant to paragraphs 3 or 4, the
Israel Police shall have all the authorities given to it by any law,
including the authority to enter into any place, to remove from there any
person, to close the place, to disperse any meeting, and to take any action
necessary to ensure the execution of the order and to use reasonable force
for this purpose.
For the purpose of this paragraph, “the Palestinian Authority” includes any
person acting on its behalf or under its auspices or using its name.
Restriction on licensing:
7.Where an order has been issued pursuant to paragraph 3 or 4, prohibiting
the opening of or operation of a representative mission, the license
required for such activity shall not be granted under any law.
Validity and entry into force:
8.(a) This Law shall enter into force on 1 January 1995.
(b) This law shall continue in force for the period of the continuance in
force of the Emergency Regulations (Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip –
Jurisdiction over Offences and Legal Assistance) 1967, as extended by the
Law implementing the Agreement on the Gaza Strip and the Jericho Area
(Judicial Powers and Miscellaneous Provisions) (Legislative Amendments)