Israel renews order to keep Arab buildings shut

Israel is keeping Palestinian institutions in occupied east Jerusalem shut tight, despite its pledge to reopen them under a recently revived peace blueprint, Palestinian officials said yesterday.

Israel renews order to keep Arab buildings shut
This month, the officials said, Israel renewed its order to close the Orient House, the city's Arab Chamber of Commerce and other heavily symbolic buildings that are a rallying point for the Palestinians' demands to occupied Jerusalem's eastern sector as capital of a future state.

Israeli police shut down the institutions in 2001, shortly after the relaunch of the Palestinian uprising against Israel, and has since issued orders every six months renewing the closure.

Azzam Abu Saoud, director of the 72-year-old Chamber of Commerce, said the closure order was extended on February 7 despite the renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians and Israel's commitment to implement the internationally endorsed "road map" peace plan.

At an international peace gathering in Annapolis in November, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to "immediately implement their respective obligations under the performance-based road map".

Initial obligations require Israel to "reopen the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce and other Palestinian institutions in [occupied] east Jerusalem".

Orient House

"Despite all the expectations the closure order was renewed for another six months," Abu Saoud said. The US consular officials asked for copies of the order, which he provided, he said.

An adviser to Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said the 2001 closure order on another prominent Palestinian institution, the PLO think-tank known as Orient House, was also renewed a few days ago.

Güncelleme Tarihi: 22 Şubat 2008, 14:55