Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter
Photo: Alex Kolomoisky
מזרח ירושלים התפרעות התפרעויות הפגנה אלימה שוטרים פצועים מסגד אל אקצא הר הבית
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Police arrest 20 at Palestinian 'culture event'
On orders of internal security minister, police shut down events to mark Palestinian declaration of Jerusalem as 'capital of Arab culture.' Soccer match at Nablus school, conference for girls organized by Palestinian Authority also banned
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter blocked the Palestinian Authority's attempt to hold a series of events in Jerusalem that would declare the city the "Arab culture capital."


Acting on Dichter's orders, police shuttered eight planned events, and have so far detained at least 20 organizers and participants for questioning.  

According to interim agreements it has signed with Israel, the Palestinian Authority is prohibited from organizing events within Israel's territory. But under the banner of Jerusalem as the capital of Arab culture, the PA has planned a number of events across Israel.


In line with the injunctions, police detained two female employees at the Al-Quds University – situated near the gates of Jerusalem's Old City - for planning to distribute paraphernalia advertizing the events. Students were blocked from entering the university.


A soccer match scheduled to be held at a school on Nablus Road and a conference for young women at the Al-Hiya'la Center, also organized by the PA, were both shut down on Dichter's orders.


Police also blocked attempts to organize marches in the Wadi Juz and Sheikh Jarrah neighborhoods.


Forces also prevented a group of Arab students from rallying at the Temple Mount with PLO flags. A similar ceremony was blocked on the Haroun el-Rashid road.


On Friday, Dichter instructed the police to "suppress any attempts by the PA to hold events in Jerusalem and throughout the rest of the country," and signed injunctions to this effect. He stressed the prohibition of PA-sponsored or organized events in Israel under the existing agreements.


Reinforced police and Border Guard troops were deployed throughout the city to enforce Dichter's orders.


MK Ahmad Tibi (United Arab List-Ta'al) slammed Dichter's policy, saying: "I guess the Occupation feels threatened by the Palestinian culture and narrative. This is a struggle between occupying police and the song of freedom and the song will win in the end."


Amnon Meranda contributed to this report


First published: 21.03.09, 12:37
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