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Kollek Says Austrian Protest over the Closing of Arab Hospital in East Jerusalem is Incomprehensible

Mayor Teddy Kollek of Jerusalem today expressed his disappointment at Austrian protests against the closing of the Austrian Hospice Hospital in East Jerusalem owned by the Catholic Church of Vienna, calling the protests incomprehensible.

The Austrian Foreign Ministry had delivered a sharp note of protest last week against the closing of the hospital by the Israeli authorities on medical grounds, and Interior Minister Karl Blecha, who is also president of the Austrian Arab Friendship Society, termed the closing a measure of arbitrariness.

But the Vienna-born Kollek, in an interview with Austrian Radio, rejected charges that there is now no hospital for the Arab population of East Jerusalem. According to Kollek, the Israeli social security system has established a modern facility providing Arab nurses, doctors, and food to inhabitants of East Jerusalem.

According to Kollek, medical care for the Arab population is now better than it was before the closing of the hospital. He expressed anger and dissappointment at the Austrian’s lack of understanding for the hospice closing.

“There have been repeated demands from the Austrian side to have the hospice returned to the Catholic church,” he said. “Now after we initiated action in that direction, the Austrians have joined in the Arab protests, in a campaign against Israel, and they have disassociated themselves from their original demands, I really deplore this kind of policy.”