Daily Israel Report

PA Acts Like Boss in Jerusalem

Palestinian Authority resumes public acts of sovereignty in Jerusalem - first a reception for an ambassador, and now a business center opening.
By Hillel Fendel
First Publish: 7/15/2009, 9:40 AM

The Palestinian Authority is resuming public moves to demonstrate sovereignty in Jerusalem.  First it was an official reception for the Egyptian ambassador, and now it is the official opening of a new business center.

Arab nations’ ambassadors to the PA, foreign consuls, and Palestinian Authority businessmen took part in the festive opening of the Al-Hambra (Red Palace) compound on Salah A-Din St. – the same street that houses a major branch of Israel’s Justice Ministry offices – on Tuesday night.

Just a few days ago, the Palestinian Authority conducted an official reception for Dr. Othman Yasser, the new Egyptian ambassador to the PA, in an eastern Jerusalem hotel. Taking part were senior PA figures, Fatah leaders, and even Israeli-Arabs.

The Oslo Accords forbid the Palestinian Authority from maintaining an official presence or conducting official activities in Jerusalem.

Correspondent Haggai Huberman reports that the new Arab business center will include restaurants, luxury stores, and even convention halls. The PA investment company Bedico spent millions of dollars to refurbish and rebuild the site, which has stood empty since 1989, after housing a movie theater for over 35 years.

Bedico chairman Munib Masri sounded almost like a Zionist in explaining his company’s motives: “It is important for me to invest in Jerusalem in order to support the Arab residents, create jobs and provide services for tourists and pilgrims who arrive in the holy city.”

At the reception in his honor, Dr. Yasser said, “The continued attempts to Judaize Jerusalem will harm the very existence of the Palestinian nation.”

Despite the ban on official PA activities in Jerusalem, the PA ran a Jerusalem headquarters in a building known as Orient House until 2001; the building was ultimately closed down  at the height of the PA-initiated terrorist war in which some 1,300 Israelis were murdered. Upon closing down the building, Israel found thousands of documents proving that the offices were used to finance terrorism. Orders to this effect signed by Yasser Arafat himself were found as well.

In February 2008, an aide to PA prime minister Salam Fayyad confirmed that Orient House had been partially reopened, with security and intelligence offices operating in the eastern Jerusalem building on a limited basis.