Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered Israel Police on Monday to bar Palestinian Authority (PA) Education Minister Dr. Sabri Saidam from visiting the Terra Sancta High School for Boys, a prominent private Christian school in Jerusalem’s Old City.
Saidam was set to be joined by Samir Jibril, the head of the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem Education Administration, and other PA officials.
Erdan said the planned visit would have violated a ban on Palestinian Authority diplomatic activity in Jerusalem.
“The fight for sovereignty in Jerusalem has not ended,” he said. “The Palestinian Authority together with other players, is trying to undermine and chip away at our sovereignty. I will continue to work as hard as I can to prevent that, and to defend our sovereignty throughout the country,” he added.
The clash occurs in the context of an ongoing attempt by the Palestinian Authority to find ways to evade direct talks over final status issues while establishing “facts on the ground,” particularly in Jerusalem, where it covets the area once occupied by Jordan for the establishment of a capital for its own desired sovereign state.
The Terra Sancta school is private and not supported by either the Palestinian Authority or Israeli education systems. But Israel’s Ministry of Education has long fought to prevent the Palestinian Authority from infiltrating Arab schools in Jerusalem.
The Palestinian Authority has made a concerted effort to pressure Arab Jerusalemites into refusing to allow their children to study Israel’s curriculum. According to the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC), that campaign was accelerated in recent weeks, apparently in response to the Jerusalem municipality offering online registration for the 2018-2019 school year to children in eastern Jerusalem.
With additional reporting by Andrew Friedman and Yona Schnitzer