ILLEGAL PALESTINIAN OPERATIONS IN JERUSALEM

(by Roni Shaked, YEDIOT AHRONOT, June 26)

Every Palestinian Authority ministry has a branch in the city. The Palestinian Authority security apparatus does not recognise the separation between the city's eastern and western sections. The Rais {president] has appointed a district governor and police commissioner and every school-child in Rafiah and Jenin knows how to recite "A Palestinian State with Jerusalem its Capital".

Gandi Ta'ah, a collaborator [an Arab who cooperated with Israeli authorities] who was relocated in Jerusalem, left a Talpiot discotheque late Friday night in the heart of western Jerusalem. Suddenly, a white Mitsubishi car stopped beside him. Four men leapt out of the car, jumped him and pushed him inside. The Mitsubishi sped towards the Old City, then to Abu Dis, and by side roads to the Palestinian General Intelligence Staff building in Bethlehem.

For long hours the prisoner was interrogated by Palestinian GSS agents. But Saturday afternoon, when Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat arrived in Bethlehem, everyone rushed to protect the Rais. Gandi Ta'ah seized the opportunity offered by the loosened guard, removed one of the window bars and escaped.

The Israeli police listed the kidnapping as another act by the Palestinian security apparatus in Jerusalem. But this time the act occurred in a place were the relocated collaborators should have felt safe -- in the heart of western Jerusalem, apparently far from the reach of the commander of the preventative security apparatus in the West Bank, Jibril Rajoub, and Tewfik Tirani, the General Intelligence commander in the West Bank. "They can go anywhere," Gandi Ta'ah muttered.

However, the activities of the Palestinian Authority in the capital are not limited to security. The Oslo Agreement determined that Jerusalem's status would be decided in the negotiations on the permanent settlement. In its wake, the dreams to make it the capital of a future Palestinian state became realisable expectations.

Since then, Arafat has tried to realise these expectations. As is his wont, he opened the journey to Jerusalem by absorbing the concept of Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine. Today, every school-child in Rafiah and Jenin knows how to recite "al-daoula al-Falistiniya wa- asimatiya al-Quds al-Sharif" -- "The State of Palestine with Jerusalem as its capital". This saying is repeated dozens of times a day on the Palestinian radio and television, and in every one of Arafat's and other Palestinian leaders' speeches.

At the same time, Arafat does everything possible to undermine Israeli control in Jerusalem, to control the power centres and public institutions and to create an alternative Palestinian regime. The scope of the steps, derived from this salami tactic are extensive.

The political symbol of the Palestinian stronghold in Jerusalem is Orient House. Before the last elections, Benjamin Netanyahu and Likud spokesmen promised to close it. But today, Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Faisal Husseini has an office in the building. And the Palestinian flag flies above Orient House.

The Palestinian Authority is not satisfied with symbols. In violation of the Oslo Accords, it maintains sovereign activities in Jerusalem and establishes institutions there. Jerusalem has thus been declared as one of Palestine's 16 districts. It is the largest of the future state's districts, both in area and population. It includes the Old City, neighbourhoods inside the Jerusalem Municipality's boundaries -- such as Beit Hanina, Shuafat and Wadi Joz -- and the villages Eizariya and Abu Dis and others south-west of Ram'Allah. The population numbers 325,000 Palestinians, 200,000 of whom carry Israeli identity cards.

Two years ago, a governor was appointed for the Jerusalem District, Jamil Ottman Nasser, aka Abu Nasser. Arafat ordered Nasser to strengthen Palestinian control in the city and to manage the affairs of the population as in every other Palestinian district.

Two committees on Jerusalem affairs have been established by the Palestinian Authority. One is a ministerial committee headed by Arafat himself. Its members include Faisal Husseini, Minister for Municipal Affairs Dr. Saeb Erekat,, Finance Minister Mohammed Zohadi Nashashibi and Information Minister Yasser Abd Rabo. The parliamentary committee oversees the ministerial committee.

In addition, nearly every Palestinian ministry today has a branch in Jerusalem.

SECURITY

The Palestinian security apparatus -- preventative security, General Intelligence, Force 17 and military intelligence -- has maintained branches in the city in recent months. Following criticism in Israel, their presence has been less demonstrative. Agents on their behalf mainly collect information on collaborators and land dealers. Surveillance and supervision activities are also carried out, on the Jerusalem Municipality among other places. The arrest ten days ago of Zohair Abu Omar, an employee of the Municipality's surveyors office, who collected information on land sales on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, is evidence of this.

POLICE

In the city, especially in its peripheral areas, the Palestinian civilian police operate against prostitution and drug dealing and handle conflicts and debt collection. The police commander of the Jerusalem district is Akid (colonel) Khaled Tantash, appointed about six months ago by Palestinian Police Commissioner Ghazzi Jebali. Tantash is proud that crime in the area has decreased in recent months. "If the Israeli police would not bother us", he claims, "crime would disappear."

RELIGION

The Palestinian Ministry for Religious Affairs operates out of an office in the Shalshelet neighbourhood in the Old City. Minister for Religious Affairs Hassan Tahboub who died one month ago, claimed that his position derived its validity from the fact that he was Chairman of the Supreme Muslim Council. The Palestinians are now searching for a new candidate for the post among members of the Supreme Muslim Council so as not to lose this stronghold.

Sheikh Akarama Sabri, the Mufti of Palestine, was appointed by Arafat and receives his salary from the Palestinian Authority, and continues to operate his office on the Temple Mount, despite protests from Israel. In order to strengthen the linkage of the Christian community to the Palestinian Authority, Arafat appointed Attorney Ibrahim Kandaleft as the Ministry of Religious Affairs's Director for "Christian Religious Affairs in East Jerusalem."

EDUCATION

The education system in the eastern part of the city is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. The Palestinian educational curriculum is being studied in Jerusalem Municipality schools. In the recent high school graduation exams, the Palestinian Authority took on responsibility for the question papers, supervisors, examiners and publication of results. The Mayor of Jerusalem sufficed with a card of congratulation, copies of which were placed on the desks of the examinees.

The Palestinian Authority has also partially succeeded in taking control of the private schools in the eastern part of the city. In the last year it has taken control of the "Orphan's School", one of the oldest and largest educational institutions in the Old City, formerly controlled by the Waqf.

The Palestinian Authority also controls a university in Jerusalem. The "Al-Quds" University, the central campus of which is in Abu Dis, maintains a college in the eastern part of Jerusalem, and its administration is situated not far from the Rockefeller Museum. Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, Palestinian Authority Education Minister, is responsible for the university.

HEALTH

The "Makassed el-Khiriyeh" hospital is one of the most important Palestinian institutions in Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority sends patients there for treatment. The maternity hospital "al-Hilal", situated in the Sawana neighbourhood in A-Tur is controlled by the Palestinian Red Crescent, headed by Dr. Fathi Arafat, the brother of the PA Chairman.

THE LEGAL SYSTEM

In an attempt to detach the residents of eastern Jerusalem from the Israeli legal system, "Reconciliation and Arbitration Councils" have been set up, with the support and assistance of the Palestinian Authority. Heading them is Haj Daoud Wazvaz, whose decisions are carried out to the last detail. The councils, in co-ordination with the District Governor, settle disputes, quarrels and business and financial matters.

HOUSING

The Palestinian Authority has created the "Council for the Development and Reconstruction of the Old City", which exists to renovate buildings. To date, $2,000 has been given to 17 families to renovate their homes. The Council has $15 million in its coffers, which was collected in telethons held by television stations in the Persian Gulf emirates and MBC. The money -- the emirs' representatives decided -- will be distributed only after a supervisory body is set up. Even before the Oslo Accords, the "Supreme Council for Housing" was set up in Jerusalem. After Israeli pressure, its offices were moved to A-Ram, in the north of the city. The Council, subordinate to the Palestinian Housing Ministry, provides loans and aid to those who possess municipality building permits.

WELFARE AND SUPPORT

The "Palestinian Prisoners' Club", closed by order of OC Central Command, is continuing its activities, without leaflets and posters. The club, which falls under the authority of the Palestinian Welfare Ministry provides former security prisoners with loans, aid and professional training.

TRADE AND INDUSTRY

The "Office for Small Businesses", which supports the development of enterprise in Jerusalem, is directly connected to the Palestinian Ministry of Trade and Industry. It is headed by Butina Shahana.

TOURISM

Before the Oslo Accords, the "High Council for Tourism" was created, which deals with the development of tourism in eastern Jerusalem. The council, headed by Hani Abu Dayah, is connected to the PA Tourism Ministry.

CULTURE

On July 1, the Palestinian Ministry of Culture is planning to hold the annual Palestinian folklore festival at the Hakawati Theatre. Taking part in the festival will be musicians, singers, folk-dancers and poets.

SPORT

The football teams of Silwan, Sur Baher, Jebel Mukaber and the "Al-Hilal" team play in the Palestinian football league, administered by the Palestinian Ministry for Youth and Sport. In Jebel Mukaber, they say that Arafat ruled that the team not be relegated to a lower league. Those who collaborated with the terrorist cell that blew up the #18 buses in Jerusalem were football players, whose connection with Hamas showed itself on the pitch.

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