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August 14, 2001
Israelis try to arrest Hanan Awshrawi

By Saud Abu Ramadan


GAZA, Aug. 11 (UPI) -- Israeli police forces tried to arrest Arab League spokeswoman Hanan Ashrawi during a protest Saturday near the Orient House that Israel closed down on Friday, Palestinians reported.

Palestinian eyewitnesses said that while dozens of Palestinians were demonstrating near the Orient House building in East Jerusalem, several Israeli police officers pushed and dragged her on the ground to arrest her.

Israeli Arab Knesset member Mohamed Barakeh told Palestinian radio that the Israeli troops were trying to arrest Ashrawi after Jerusalem Police Commander Miki Levy ordered her arrest. Barakeh said that while the policemen were trying to drag her more, "I, as well as many Palestinian young men, managed to pull Ashrawi from the hands of the policemen."

"The situation in Jerusalem as a result of the Israeli government policy and is really very dangerous," said Barakeh. "What this government is going could lead the whole region to an explosion."

The Israeli army declared the site a closed military area.

Meanwhile, leading Palestinians declared in a leaflet that a general strike will take place in Jerusalem on Sunday in protest of what it said "Israel's occupation of the Orient House in Jerusalem."

At a news conference held at a nearby hotel, Ashrawi said that as spokeswoman for of the Arab League, she would take action to stop what she referred to as Israel's occupation of the Orient House building.

Palestinian authority cabinet Secretary General Ahmed Abdel-Rahman said Israel's move Friday violated an interim peace deal reached in 1993.

"The Israeli occupation of the Orient House aims to destroy all agreements signed since 1993," Abdel-Rahman said. "The Palestinian people are left without choice but to escalate resistance and intifada to liberate holy Jerusalem and regain the Orient House and other Palestinian institutions occupied by Israel."

Palestinian radio reported that dozens of Palestinian and left-wing Israeli demonstrators clashed with the Israeli police after they tried to pass through a police blockade in front of Orient House, the unofficial office of the PLO in Jerusalem. Israeli radio reported that the demonstrators threw stones at the policemen at the blockade, injuring one of the policemen in the head.

Palestinian medical sources said that 10 Palestinians were slightly injured in the clashes and 12 demonstrators were arrested when police tried to disperse the demonstration.

Israeli security forces seized control of the Orient House and eight other Palestinian authority and PLO institutions on Friday after a Palestinian suicide bomber killed 15 Israelis in a Jerusalem pizzeria on Thursday.