Communicated by the Office of the Prime Minister of Israel, September 9, 1998
— The Agreement —
Under the terms of the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority (PA) is
prohibited from operating in Jerusalem.
The Interim Agreement (“Oslo 2”), which was signed on September 28, 1995,
sets limits on the PA’s jurisdiction, stating that it does not include
“issues that will be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations:
Jerusalem, settlements, specified military locations, Palestinian refugees,
borders, foreign relations and Israelis” (Article XVII (1a)). Thus, the PA
is barred from exercising any authority or conducting any activity in
In the Note for the Record which accompanied the Hebron Protocol of January
15, 1997, the PA reaffirmed that, “Exercise of Palestinian governmental
activity, and location of Palestinian governmental offices, will be as
specified in the Interim Agreement.”
— The Violations —
The PA continues to intensify its activities in Jerusalem in violation of
the Oslo Accords. Following is a list of the 20 PA institutions operating
illegally in the city:
— Palestinian “Ministries” —
- Ministry for Jerusalem Affairs – located in the Orient House and run by
PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Faisal Husseini, it functions as a base
for Palestinian activities in the city, including organizing protests and
press conferences, raising funds and purchasing Jerusalem real estate on
behalf of the PA.
- Ministry for Religious Affairs – located on Shalshelet Street, at the
entrance to the Temple Mount in the Old City, it oversees Muslim religious
matters. PA Minister for Religious Affairs Hassan Tahboub recently passed
away and Yasser Arafat is expected to nominate a replacement shortly.Ministry official Ibrahim Kandelaft acts as PA representative to the
Christian communities. He regularly participates in church conferences and
ceremonies in Jerusalem.
- Ministry of Education – the Ministry has taken control of the private
educational system in eastern Jerusalem which serves nearly half of the
city’s Arab students. Schools run by the Muslim Wakf, Christian churches
and UNRWA operate with special permits issued by the Ministry, and they
utilize curriculums, books and tests prepared by it. The Palestinian
Legislative Council recently approved the “First Palestinian Curriculum”,
which will likely be introduced into schools run by the PA Education
- Ministry of Health – the Ministry has intensified its activities in
Jerusalem, seeking to extend its control over health institutions in the
Arab sector (see #17 below). The Ministry issues licenses to doctors
operating in Jerusalem, and the PA Health Minister recently declared that
health institutions in Jerusalem were an integral part of the Palestinian
health system and incorporated them into the PA’s five-year development plan.
- Ministry of Finance – the Ministry has pressured Palestinian merchants
in eastern Jerusalem to register their businesses as Palestinian firms
under PA supervision and to report regularly on their commercial activities
for tax purposes. Merchants refusing to do so have been threatened with
having their products boycotted in PA areas.
- Ministry of Transportation – the Ministry issues licenses to Palestinian
taxis and transportation services operating in Jerusalem, and the
Ministry’s Director-General is involved in establishing public
transportation lines between Sur Baher and central Jerusalem as well as
- Ministry of Housing / Palestinian Housing Council – the Housing Council,
part of the PA Housing Ministry, oversees planning for building projects in
the PA areas and Jerusalem, and engages in fundraising on their behalf. The
Council provides loans and aid to Palestinians in eastern Jerusalem.Members of its board of directors include the PA’s Minister of Justice and
Minister of Housing. The Housing Council’s leadership has held working
meetings with PA Chairman Arafat.
- Ministry of Trade and Industry/ Palestinian Small Business Project –
located in the Wadi Joz neighborhood, the Small Business Project is an arm
of the Ministry of Trade and Industry. Its stated purpose is to assist and
encourage Palestinian small businesses. The PA uses it as a cover for
disbursing funds to various Palestinian projects in Jerusalem. Headed by
- Ministry of Youth and Sports – operating out of an office in A-Ram, the
Ministry runs various youth clubs and sports activities in Arab-populated
sections of Jerusalem. Under the ministry’s guidance, Jerusalem sporting
groups serve as active members of PA-supervised sports associations.
- Ministry of Tourism / Higher Council for Arab Tourism – the Higher
Council is an arm of the Ministry of Tourism and it works in conjunction
with the Orient House, the Jerusalem District Governor and members of the
Palestinian Legislative Council to promote Palestinian tourism projects in
Jerusalem. Headed by Hani Abu Dayah.
- Ministry of Information / WAFA – WAFA, the official Palestinian news
agency, is subordinate to the Palestinian Ministry of Information. It
opened a branch on Ibn Abu Taleb Street in the Friteh building in eastern
Jerusalem.** Other PA institutions **
- Office of the Mufti of Jerusalem and the Holy Land – located on the
Temple Mount, it is the main office of PA Mufti Ikrama Sabri. Sabri issues
religious edicts, including a prohibition on the sale of land to Jews and
on applying for an Israeli passport. He gives sermons at Al-Aksa Mosque in
which he regularly denies Israel’s right to exist, glorifies suicide
bombing attacks and denies any Jewish connection to the Western Wall. Sabri
also travels to areas within pre-1967 Israel for working meetings with
- Palestinian Security Forces – Palestinian security agents conduct a
range of activities in Jerusalem which include detentions,
intelligence-gathering, criminal investigations and enforcing orders and
instructions issued by PA Chairman Arafat.In an effort to silence
opponents of the PA, agents belonging to Jibril Rajoub’s Preventive
Security Service have threatened and intimidated Palestinian journalists
and editors as well as critics of PA Chairman Arafat. Rajoub’s men
intervene in business and other disputes, and have sought to prevent
Palestinians from filing complaints with the Israel Police. They have also
punished perpetrators of “moral crimes”. PA agents serve as bodyguards for
various Palestinian personalities in Jerusalem, such as PA Mufti Ikrama
Sabri, and provide security for Palestinian institutions in the city.
Palestinian security agents are also active on the Temple Mount, where they
occasionally provide security during prayers. During Ramadan prayers, their
presence on the Mount increases. They frequently conduct patrols on major
thoroughfares in the eastern part of the city, both on foot and by car.
- Jerusalem District Governor – The PA appointed Jamil Othman Nasser to
serve as Governor of the Jerusalem District. His office is located in Abu
Dis, outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries, but Nasser conducts
activities within the city, providing its residents with a range of
services and involving himself in various matters. For example, on October
23, 1996, he joined a Force 17 in an attempt to wrest control over the
Muslim religious establishment on the Temple Mount from the Jordanians. He
also involves himself in resolving disputes among Palestinians in Jerusalem.
- Palestinian Legislative Council – many of the seven Jerusalem
representatives on the Palestinian Legislative Council operate out of
offices located in Jerusalem, among them Hatam Abdel Kader.
- Arab Studies Society – operates out of the Orient House under the
leadership of Faisal Husseini. Under the cover of a research institute, it
serves the interests of the PA by carrying out surveys and obtaining
information on its behalf.
- Al-Mokassad Hospital – The PA recently seized control over the hospital
after the personal intervention of Yasser Arafat. The PA fired the
hospital’s administration and appointed its own people to replace it. The
hospital and much of its staff operate without the requisite licenses
required by Israeli law.
- Office of Mapping and Geography – operated in the Wadi Joz neighborhood
until Israel demanded its closure in August 1996. The PA promised to
relocate the office to Abu Dis, outside Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries.
Despite this commitment, the PA reopened the office in Orient House, where
it continues to operate under the direction of Khalil Toufakji.
- Palestinian Energy Center – located in Beit Hanina, it develops
Palestinian energy strategy and programming. Established by a “presidential
decree” of Yasser Arafat on December 20, 1993, its main office opened on
September 26, 1994. On its internet site on the World Wide Web, the PEC
states, “In July 1996, the center became part of the President’s Office,
and subject to the decisions made by the President himself.”
- Palestinian Prisoners’ Club – working under the authority of the
Palestinian Ministry of Welfare, it provides loans, aid and professional
training to former Palestinian security prisoners. Though Israel ordered it
to close, it continues to operate in Jerusalem.
— Recent examples of illegal PA activity in Jerusalem —
- On July 1, 1998, the Palestinian Ministry of Culture sought to hold a
folklore festival at the al-Hakawati theater in eastern Jerusalem. Israeli
police canceled the event.
- On May 26, 1998, approximately 40 members of the PA’s Legislative Council
(PLC), including six PA “Ministers”, gathered in the Old City of Jerusalem
to protest Jewish construction. Abu Alaa, speaker of the PLC, declared it
to be an “historic event” and announced that it was the first official PLC
meeting convened in Jerusalem. Israeli police dispersed the meeting.
- In March 1998, 16 surveyors working on behalf of the Israeli Ministry of
Transportation were detained in Jerusalem by the PA and taken to Ramallah
and Abu Dis for interrogation.
- In February 1998, the PA attempted to set up a security company in the
city to be used as cover for the operations of its security forces.
- In February 1998, the PA Ministry of Youth and Sports attempted to
convene four conferences in Jerusalem.
- In December 1997, the PA attempted to conduct a population census in