On 27 September 2017, Israeli authorities shut down the el-Hakawati Theatre (also known as the Palestinian National Theatre), preventing the holding of a cultural event, which included concerts by three music groups, on the grounds that it was sponsored by the Palestinian Authority, reported Quds Press.
Authorities hung a notice on the theatre door that said: “Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan ordered the closure of the Hakawati theatre after receiving information about a cultural event entitled ‘Arabs expelled from their homes in 1948 and 1967’, under the auspices of the Palestinian Authority”.
Awad Salameh, member of the Jerusalem District of Fatah, said that authorities are oppressing Palestinians in Jerusalem and preventing them from establishing any cultural and educational artistic activity. He said they always raise the argument that the activity is under the auspices of the Palestinian National Authority, reported Alhaya.
Theatre director Amer Khalil told Al Jazeera in December 2015, when the theatre was again shut down, that it had been shut down more than 30 times since its opening in 1977. On 8 December 2015, authorities shut the theatre down for the evening to prevent the performance of a musical they claimed was linked to the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.
Khalil also explains that audiences began to diminish after the building of the wall and implementation of checkpoints that prevent Palestinians in the West Bank to come into Jerusalem, effectively shifting Palestinian cultural life from Jerusalem to the city of Ramallah in the West Bank.
The three music groups scheduled to perform at the September 2017 event were The Mount of Olives Folklore Band, Jerusalem Folklore Band and Riwaq Folklore Band.