Israel Issues Order to Close Three Palestinian Agencies

Israeli Police Minister Moshe Shahal has issued an order to close down three Palestinian institutions in eastern Jerusalem believed to have illegal ties to the Palestinian Authority.

The closure order were served Monday on the Palestinian Broadcasting Authority, the Palestinian Health Council and the Palestinian Statistics Center.

Israel has been concerned that the Palestinian Authority has been attempting to establish in eastern Jerusalem the de facto capital of a future Palestinian state.

Under the terms of the self-rule accord, the Palestinian Authority must restrict its activities of those areas under its control – currently the Gaza Strip and the West Bank city of Jericho.

Negotiations on the final status of Jerusalem are slated to begin in May 1996.

Yasser Arafat, head of the Palestinian Authority, denounced the closure orders as the violations of the peace accord.

“It’s completely against the agreement,” he told reporters in Gaza. “Especially that those three centers are very old centers, from even before our Palestinian Authority and our arrival here in Gaza.”

Senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Faisal Husseini said a regional meeting on tourism being held in Cairo had been suspended because of the closure order.

Husseini said the peace process “cannot continue or be concluded under this atmosphere, which is imposed by Israel and which strengthens the Israeli right wing.”

The Israeli closure order came in the wake of rising tensions over Palestinian activities at Orient House, the PLO’s de facto headquarters in eastern Jerusalem.

Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert recently threatened to shut down Orient House, saying that it was zoned for a hotel and demanding that the owners apply for rezoning license.

The Palestinians have refused.

Husseini has said any attempt to shut down Orient House would bring the peace process to a halt.

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