The United States government is allegedly helping the Palestinian Authority re-establish an official foothold in Jerusalem, according to a report published this week by WorldNetDaily – but Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu insists the report is inaccurate.
According to a senior official in the office of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas quoted in the report, Israel has silently agreed to allow the PA to open official offices in the eastern section of the capital. The report alleged that in recent months, the PA government has opened a number of offices, including PA ministry offices, in eastern Jerusalem, in defiance of an Israeli law banning the opening of any official PA institution in the capital city.
The previous PA headquarters in Jerusalem, Orient House, not far from Damascus Gate, was closed by the Israeli government in 2001 following a series of terrorist attacks in the capital. Security officials said at the time that Orient House had been a locus of operations for planning and funding the attacks.
The report claims the U.S. has also been helping the PA develop infrastructures within the Jerusalem municipal boundaries, specifically in Arab neighborhoods such as Kfar Akeb, Kalandiya and Samir Amis, all in eastern and northern parts of the city. One road sign, bearing the USAID emblem (U.S. Agency for International Development), even proclaims, “Rehabilitation of Ramallah-Jerusalem Road. This project is a gift form [sic] the American people to the Palestinian people in cooperation with the Palestinian Authority and PECDAR. July 2007.”
Fatah: No PA State Without Jerusalem
Dmitri Ziliani, a spokesman for the Jerusalem division of Fatah, confirmed to the news outlet that the PA holds regular official meetings in Jerusalem in anticipation of a future PA state that would encompass the eastern portion of the city. Ziliani was quoted by WND as saying, “Our political program, as Fatah, dictates that there will be no Palestinian state if these areas – all of east Jerusalem – are not included.” Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad also insists that no Jews be permitted to ive within the state he envisons and has demanded that Israel forcibly remove the more than 315,000 Jews who make their homes in Judea and Samaria.
When asked about the PA's claims, the prime minister's spokesman told WND, “The prime minister's position on Jerusalem is clear. Jerusalem will remain the united capital of Israel.”
But an official from Netanyahu's office, who was not named, allegedly confirmed that the prime minister “did acquiesce to a U.S. request to allow the PA to open institutions in Jerusalem.” The official said that U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell and U.S. National Security Adviser Jim Jones had recently met with and pressed Netanyahu to freeze construction in the eastern part of the city as a “confidence-building” measure to re-start talks with the PA.
Abbas has said that he will not re-enter negotiations with Israel until all Jewish construction is completely frozen in every part of Judea, Samaria and areas of Jerusalem that were restored to the city in the 1967 Six Day War. Netanyahu did not agree to a construction freeze in any part of Jerusalem, and last month coalition members announced modifications – “clarifications” -- to the 10-month freeze imposed on Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. Nevertheless, the “modifications” have yet to be honored, and field inspectors have appeared to be unaware of them.
Regev Firmly Denies
“You show me one credible source that can point to a single official PA office really opening in Jerusalem,” challenged Regev after being contacted by Israel National News. “Then you can talk about whether there is a need to deny the story."
Asked to specifically clarify whether the prime minister has acquiesced, silently or otherwise, to the opening of PA offices in Jerusalem, he reiterated that there is no intention to divide the capital, now or in the future.
Regev: “The prime minister's position is clear and unchanged. Jerusalem is the united capital of Israel and will remain such in the future.”
INN: “Does that mean that no neighborhoods will be [removed from Israeli sovereignty]?"
Regev: “That's exactly what I said. It will remain such in the future.”