Israel removes festival from site linked to France over alleged PA funding – .

Israel removes festival from site linked to France over alleged PA funding – .

Israel canceled a cultural festival at a site protected by France in East Jerusalem, claiming it was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority without Israel’s permission, which organizers denied on Wednesday.

The planned three-day festival at Abraham’s House for religious pilgrims, with performances by Palestinian arts groups, was supported by the United Nations Development Program, Finland and Austria.

The director of Abraham’s house, Bernard Thibaud, said the performances for the children had already started Tuesday when police arrived and closed it, adding he was “shocked and ashamed” by the cancellation.
The French consul general in Jerusalem as well as the consulate’s religious affairs adviser had also visited the festival, diplomatic sources said.
In the cancellation order, Public Security Minister Omer Barlev wrote that the event was being held “with the sponsorship and funding of the Palestinian Authority, and without written permission.”
The Maison d’Abraham is managed by a religious charity, Secours Catholique-Caritas France. It is under the protection of the French Consulate in Jerusalem, like the Church of St. Anne in the Old City, which President Emmanuel Macron visited last year.
“The goal is to bring a little joy and recreation to the children and adults in this environment who experience a lot of poverty and violence,” said Thibaud. “The fact that the police stop these cultural events only increases the violence in the neighborhood. “
The festival was organized by the Edward Said National Conservatory of Music, the Palestinian National Theater El-Hakawati and the Qafilah Mobile Theater in Jerusalem.
Asked about the PA’s support for its organization or for the festival, the director general of the conservatory Suhail Khoury replied to AFP “no, not at all”.
Amer Khalil, director of el-Hakawati, also told AFP that the PA was “not at all” supporting his group or the festival, adding that it was a UNDP program.
Imad Mitwalli, director of Qafilah, said his organization “never” received money from the Palestinian Authority.
Barlev did not immediately respond to questions from AFP.
Israel bans official Palestinian activity in East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in the 1967 Six Day War in a move unrecognized by most of the international community, where the Palestinians hope to establish the capital of their future state.


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