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Flap over Palestinian Activity in Jerusalem Nears Compromise

August 8, 1996
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The latest battle over Palestinian activities in eastern Jerusalem has come closer to resolution with a compromise that would allow a Palestinian Council member to maintain an office in his home.

Public Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani ordered the office closed Sunday, saying that it violated the Interim Agreement, which bars any Palestinian political activities in areas not under its control.

But Hatem Abdel Kader ignored the closure order, saying that there was nothing illegal about receiving guests in his home, located in the Beit Hanina neighborhood of eastern Jerusalem.

Kader, who was elected to the Palestinian legislative council in January to represent Palestinian residents of eastern Jerusalem, said he receives about 12 constituents per day to discuss such matters as building permits and confiscated identity cards.

But after an aide to Kahalani met Tuesday with Kader at Jerusalem’s Hyatt Hotel, the flap was apparently resolved when the council member agreed to sign a statement that he was not representing the Palestinian legislative council when he held meetings at his home and that he would not engage in any political activity there.

The highly publicized incident had put the government in a difficult position, because it would have proved embarrassing to lock Kader and his family out of their home as part of enforcing the closure order.

Israel casts a wary eye on any Palestinian political activities in eastern Jerusalem, viewing them as an effort to gain a foothold in what the government maintains is the eternal, indivisible capital of the Jewish state.

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