A conference scheduled Thursday morning in East Jerusalem to plan a Palestinian civil society response to the Israeli seizure of East Jerusalem was attacked by Israeli forces, and speakers, Palestinian legislators and members of Palestinian civil society were detained and arrested, charged with holding a conference deemed ‘political’ by Israeli authorities.
Civil society organizations called for the conference, entitled, "The implications of the Palestinian PLC Elections on the Palestinian Political Setting: Towards a Comprehensive Plan to Save Jerusalem." This conference was to take place at the Ambassador Hotel in East Jerusalem this morning, Thursday, March 16, 2006 to discuss the political, social and economic situation in the occupied Palestinian territories following the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) elections.

However, prior to the inauguration of the conference, the Israeli intelligence services entered the Hotel, sealed off the premises and handed the Hotel administration an order banning the Palestinian conference under the claim that it is a political activity. As a result, speakers, members of the PLC and participants were arrested. In addition, representatives of civil society were summoned to a security investigation by the Israeli intelligence services.

The press release from conference organizers states, "It is bizarre that the Israeli authorities allowed Palestinian PLC limited elections in Jerusalem in January of 2006, however, now they are preventing meetings with those that were elected. These unwarranted procedures illustrate the continuation of violations of basic human rights in discussions, dialogue and freedom of speech; reminding Palestinians on the one hand and the international community on the other, again, that Jerusalem is a Palestinian occupied city that falls under Israeli repressive measures that aim to erase the Palestinian characteristics of the city using all available means.

"We call upon the international community to uphold their responsibilities and take immediate action for the protection of the Palestinian people and the city of Jerusalem. We also call upon the international community that speaks of freedom and democracy, to ensure the rights of the Palestinian people."

*this article was sourced from a report by Ma’an News