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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Israel Puts Off PLO Closure




JERUSALEM -- Israel postponed on Monday its threatened closure of offices in the PLO's Jerusalem headquarters in the face of Palestinian warnings of a violent backlash ahead of Israeli elections just a week away.


Israeli political sources said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security council decided that ministers would first examine a new Palestinian compromise proposal before deciding when closure orders are to be served.


Netanyahu, who has made Israel's claim over all of Jerusalem a foundation of his re-election campaign, convened the session late Sunday after an Israeli deadline passed for the Palestinians to shut the offices themselves.


Israel contends the Palestinian Authority, which under interim peace accords has no official standing in Jerusalem, conducts political activity in the headquarters known as Orient House in the eastern part of the city.


The self-rule administration, in charge of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, denies the allegation.


Israeli Public Security Minister Avigdor Kahalani, who signed the closure orders, held talks Sunday with Faisal al-Husseini, the top PLO official in Jerusalem, but they failed to defuse the dispute.


"The problem with the Israeli proposals is that they aim to ban political activity at Orient House," said Mahdi Abdul Hadi, an adviser to Husseini, accusing Israel of trying to dictate terms before any permanent deal on the status of Jerusalem.


Palestinians have charged that Netanyahu orchestrated the dispute for domestic political gain in the run-up to next week's poll.


Israeli political commentators speculated that cabinet ministers would have to decide whether clashes with Palestinians would win Netanyahu votes from security-conscious Israelis or lose him support at the ballot box.