ASIA/HOLY LAND – Jerusalem, Israeli authorities block the cultural festival organized in the House of Abraham. The Heads of the Catholic Churches express deep concern

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Jerusalem – On Tuesday, October 26th, Israeli plainclothes police and security personnel forcibly interrupted the cultural festival activities that were being held in the Catholic “House of Abraham” in the eastern district of Jerusalem, and stated that this activity approved by the Palestinian National Authority was “illegal”. The Assembly of Heads of the Catholic Churches in the Holy Land immediately reacted strongly and issued a statement where they express “concern” regarding the “repeated hostile and repressive acts” carried out in the Holy City by the Israeli authorities “towards everything that is considered Palestinian”. Located in the eastern part of the holy city of Jerusalem, the “House of Abraham” in the Old City is a pilgrim’s home opened by Caritas France and under French diplomatic protection. It offers hospitality to pilgrims and supports initiatives in favor of Palestinian families residing in the area. Like the Saint-Anne Church in the old city, this building enjoys the “protection” of the French authorities. On October 26th, a three-day cultural festival co-sponsored by the Palestinian National Theater, the National Conservatory of Music and the Mobile Theater opened here. Sponsored by the United Nations and organizations from France, Austria and other countries, the French consulate in Jerusalem also presided over related activities in the early morning of the same day. International media reported that Israeli plainclothes police and other personnel forcibly interrupted the activity and showed the person in charge of the House an order to cancel the activities in progress, signed by Omer Barlev, Israeli Minister for Public Security.
The ministerial order stated that this event was “supported and sponsored by the Palestinian Authority without written permission”. In accordance with the current Israeli policy, various activities related to the Palestinian Authority are prohibited in the eastern part of Jerusalem. The eastern part of Jerusalem has always been the capital of the State of Palestine recognized by the Palestinian political circles. The Conference of Leaders of the Holy Land Catholic Church pointed out that the Israeli authorities’ decision was “unjustified”. It is emphasized that this activity is “purely cultural”, which is in line with the usual activities organized by the “House of Abraham”. The leaders of the local church continued to point out, “we have witnessed repeated hostile and repressive actions by the Israeli authorities on all matters considered to be Palestine, as if the Palestinians did not have the right to speak in the Holy City, as if they were not part of this place, as if Jerusalem does not belong to them. Jerusalem should be open to all equally”, just as the Holy City “accepts everyone and does not reject anyone”.