March 14, 2017
Dr. Saeb Erekat strongly condemns the illegitimate closure of the Mapping and Geographic Information Systems Department of the Arab Studies Society and the illegal detention of Mr. Khalil Tufakji this morning in Occupied East Jerusalem. Mr. Tufakji is a distinguished scholar from Jerusalem and the Director of this academic department within the previously forcibly sealed off Orient House in the heart of Occupied East Jerusalem.
Mr. Tufakji, who has served on several initiatives related to the Middle East Peace Process, was detained by Israeli occupying forces during a raid on their office in Jerusalem this morning. Israeli occupying forces have also seized the office documents, computers, and equipment.
This provocative act by the Israeli occupying forces is a reminder of Israel’s ongoing campaign to deprive Palestinians in Occupied East Jerusalem, the capital of the State of Palestine, of any voice, of its national institutions and organisations, in an effort to erase any Palestinian presence in the city.
Israel, the occupying power, continues to violate its obligations under signed agreements, as well as of its commitments vis-à-vis the international community. More than 20 Palestinian institutions in East Jerusalem, including notably the Orient House and the Chamber of Commerce, remain forcibly closed by Israeli occupying orders and raids since 2001, in violation of international law.
Numerous United Nations resolutions call upon Israel to immediately reopen all Palestinian institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem. UNSC Resolution 476 states, “All legislative and administrative measures and actions were taken by Israel, the occupying power, which purports to alter the character and status of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention (…) and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East”.
Systematic Israeli policies against a Palestinian presence in Occupied East Jerusalem aim to bury the two-state solution, consolidate Israel’s Apartheid regime in the occupied city, as well as in the rest of occupied Palestine, and aim to create a Palestinian demographic minority. This serious escalation demands the international community to urgently take concrete measures to reopen Palestinian institutions in Occupied East Jerusalem, in line with international law and UN resolutions, is overdue. In particular, we call upon the European Union to fully and immediately implement the recommendations of its Heads of Missions’ report on Jerusalem.