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5 East Jerusalem cultural institutions threatened with closure, PLO warns

June 21, 2017 5:26 P.M. (Updated: June 29, 2017 6:04 P.M.)
JERUSALEM (Ma’an) -- At least five social, cultural, and educational organizations operating in occupied East Jerusalem have been ordered by Israeli authorities to close their bank accounts, with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) saying the move was “part of the Israeli government’s racist ethnic cleansing policies” targeting Palestinians in the city.

The PLO’s Jerusalem Affairs Department said in a statement Tuesday that a number of organizations received the notices, and that the orders said that the institutions would be issued checks equivalent to the money deposited when closing the accounts.

The department condemned Israeli authorities, without specifying which government entity issued the orders, for the “strange measures” taken against the cultural, social, and educational institutions.

The statement said that the Israeli government’s “racist ethnic cleansing policies” were aimed at “increasing the suffering of Jerusalemites by exiling them from Jerusalem.”

The PLO department insisted that the organizations were all “working in accordance with law,” paid their annual fees to the relevant authorities, and employed both Israelis and Palestinians.

Head of the Jerusalem Center for Social and Economic Rights Ziyad al-Hamouri highlighted to Ma’an that, since having an Israeli bank account is a precondition to operate an organization in Jerusalem, the five affected institutions’ operating permits may be revoked and could be forced to shut down.

Al-Hamouri said that the organizations have filed a complaint to the “competent authorities” to appeal the decision.

Ma’an reached out to both the Israeli Finance Ministry and the Jerusalem municipality for comment.

The fate of Jerusalem has been a focal point of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict for decades, with numerous tensions arising over Israeli threats regarding the status of non-Jewish religious sites in the city, and the "Judaization" of East Jerusalem through settlement construction and mass demolitions of Palestinian homes.
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