Communicated by the Israeli Government Press Office May 25, 1997
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 Jerusalem.
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 PA is active in Jerusalem in a range of spheres. One of the PA's more glaring violations is the operation of Palestinian security agents in the city. Plainclothesmen from four Palestinian security forces are currently active in Jerusalem:
1) Jibril Rajoub's Preventive Security Service
2) Palestinian General Intelligence Service
3) Force 17 Presidential Guard
4) Jamil Othman Nasser's Jerusalem District Security
The presence of Palestinian security agents and their activity in Jerusalem is a flagrant violation of Oslo. It reflects the PA's concerted efforts to subvert Israel's sovereignty in the city. To comply with the accords, the PA must cease all its activity in Jerusalem, including that of its 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. 76 Palestinian security agents have been arrested by Israeli police for carrying out illegal activity in Jerusalem in the past 15 months. 66 Palestinian security agents have been detained for kidnaping Palestinians in Jerusalem and forcibly taking them to the autonomous areas. 6 agents, including three Orient House guards, have been arrested for assault, and 4 have been detained for illegal weapons possession. There have been at least 39 incidents in which Palestinians have been abducted from Jerusalem by Palestinian security agents, and more than 120 additional crimes perpetrated in Jerusalem in which Palestinian security men were involved.
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 Religious Affairs Minister Hassan Tahboub and 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 increased.
Palestinian security agents frequently conduct patrols on the city's major thoroughfares, both on foot and by car. Much of their activity centers around the following locations in the city:
1) Temple Mount
2) Orient House
3) Ambassador Hotel
4) American Colony Hotel
5) Shabiba office in the A-Sharif building on Salah-a-Din street
6) Palestinian Prisoner's Club and Institute for the Wounded in the Nuzha building
Following is a partial list of incidents involving illegal activity by PA security agents in Jerusalem:
On May 20, 1997, Palestinian journalist Daoud Kuttab, a Jerusalem resident and American citizen, was summoned to appear at the Palestinian police station in Ramallah, where he was detained. Kuttab was held because he complained that the PA was jamming his private television station's broadcasts of the sessions of the PA Legislative Council.
On May 8, 1997, seventy-year old land dealer Farid Bashiti, an Israeli citizen, was abducted from Jerusalem by Palestinian police officer Nasser Anani and taken to Ramallah, where his corpse was found with his hands tied behind his back and punctured by stab wounds. The murder came just one week after the PA announced the imposition of the death penalty on anyone who sells land to Jews. Jerusalem Police Commander Yair Yitzhaki said that the arrest of Anani and an accomplice "point to the involvement of the PA in the affair."
On May 4, 1997, two Palestinians were abducted from the eastern Jerusalem neighborhood of Sur Baher by Palestinian security agents. They were forcibly taken to the Palestinian police station in Bethlehem and interrogated, before being released. Two Palestinian security agents were arrested by Israeli Police in connection with the abduction.
In mid-February 1997, armed PA agents beat up 3 Palestinian youths after pursuing them throughout the northern neighborhoods of Jerusalem. (Iton Yerushalayim, February 28, 1997)
On July 20, 1996, six agents belonging to Jibril Rajoub's Preventive Security Service broke into the home of Abed Salam Harbawi in the northern Jerusalem neighborhood of Atarot. Rajoub's men forcibly abducted Harbawi, an Israeli citizen, and took him to Ramallah, where he was pressured to yield his ownership over a piece of property in Jerusalem being sought by the Coptic Church with Arafat's backing. (Jerusalem Post, July 22, 1996)
On January 2, 1996, Force 17 agents, known as Chairman Arafat's Presidential Guard, detained human rights activist Bassam Eid in Jerusalem and forced him to go to Ramallah. Eid called one of his colleagues and said he was under arrest by Force 17 and he had overheard his captors calling Arafat's office in Gaza to receive instructions on what to do with him.(Haaretz, January 4, 1996) After international protests, Eid was released.