Israel Tells PLO to Remove Its Offices From Jerusalem

From Associated Press

Israel has told the PLO that offices controlling self-rule government will have to move out of Jerusalem, and police have been ordered to keep new offices from being opened, officials said Sunday.

The toughened stand by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin comes amid escalating rhetoric between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization over the future status of Jerusalem, which both claim as their capital.

In the Israel-PLO autonomy accord, which provided for self-rule in the Gaza Strip and West Bank town of Jericho, the two sides agreed to postpone negotiations on Jerusalem for two years.

Israeli officials claim that the mushrooming PLO offices in Jerusalem violate the accord.

"According to the agreement, all institutions must be in Gaza or Jericho," said Obed Ben-Ami, spokesman for Rabin.

Yaacov Tsur, the Israeli agriculture minister, said after a Cabinet meeting Sunday that the government will take "all the necessary steps" to ensure the provisions of the accord are met.

"I don't think Israel can allow any hint or process that gives the impression that Jerusalem is going to be the capital of the Palestinians," he said. "This is against the agreement that we signed."

An official who requested anonymity said the government will try to avoid direct confrontation and instead use pressure tactics--such as cutting off telephones, water and electricity--if the PLO does not comply.

Jerusalem police spokesman Eric Bar-Chen quoted Police Minister Moshe Shahal as saying police will prevent "the setting up of any Palestinian authorities in Jerusalem."

PLO officials, however, say Israel is trying to get a jump on negotiations by building neighborhoods in the Arab sector of the city, which Israel captured from Jordan in the 1967 Middle East War.

"They want to reinforce their status in Jerusalem before they start negotiations," PLO spokesman Hatem Abdul Qader said.

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