Israel must let Palestinians reopen E.Jerusalem offices: EU

AFP , Wednesday 17 Aug 2011

Israeli decisions to close down several Palestinian offices in East Jerusalem, the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce, has been faced with international condemnation by the European Union

The European Union on Wednesday decried the continued closure of key Palestinian offices in east Jerusalem, which were sealed by Israel 10 years ago, and called for them to be reopened.

In August 2001, Israel's public security ministry shut down Orient House, the local headquarters of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Arab Chamber of Commerce on the grounds that they were fronts for "illegal activities" by the Palestinian Authority.

The original closure order has since been extended every six months, ministry spokeswoman Tal Volovich said.

"The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah deeply regret the recent Israeli decision extending once again the closure order against the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce," a statement said.

"The EU firmly believes that these institutions should be allowed to re-open and resume their operations as focal points for Palestinians in east Jerusalem," it said.

"The EU urges Israel to reconsider the closure and to fully review its decision."

Until its closure, Orient House was the official body in charge of negotiating the final status of Jerusalem; it was also the focal point for all social and political issues for the Arab residents of east Jerusalem.

Israel occupied and annexed the eastern sector of the city during the 1967 Six Day War and has since banned Palestinian activity there deemed as "political."

The Palestinians want east Jerusalem as the capital of the promised state.

Short link: