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Israel Arrests Two Palestinian Officials in Jerusalem

Israel Arrests Two Palestinian Officials in Jerusalem

Monday, 14 October, 2019 - 14:00
The Palestinian Authority's governor of Jerusalem, Adnan Ghaith, seated at his ministry in the occupied West Bank town of Al-Ram, near the disputed city | AFP

Israeli police arrested the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem and a local official of the mainstream Fatah party in dawn raids Monday in the disputed city, their lawyer said.

Police arrested governor Adnan Ghaith and the Fatah general secretary for Jerusalem, Shadi Mutour, in raids on their homes in Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, lawyer Mohammed Mahmud told AFP.

He said they were accused of engaging in activity on behalf of the Palestinian Authority in the city.

Israeli police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that "two representatives were arrested by police and are being questioned", but did not confirm their names or give any further detail.

PA activities in Jerusalem are barred by Israel, which occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognized by the international community.

It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

About 320,000 Palestinians live in east Jerusalem.

The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Detainees' Commission said in a statement that Ghaith and Mutour's detention had been extended till the evening hours when they would appear in court over the charge of "practicing sovereignty in Jerusalem."

Palestinian Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi Hidmi said the "crackdown against Fatah affiliates and activists in Jerusalem aims at undermining the Palestinian presence and sovereignty in the city."

For her part, Senior Palestinian official Hanan Ashrawi condemned Ghaith's arrest in a strongly-worded statement.

"Governor Ghaith´s detention is an act of political persecution," she wrote. "It is an illegal abduction that must be roundly and firmly condemned by all concerned parties."

"Israel is waging war against everything Palestinian in Jerusalem," she added.

Ghaith has been taken in for police questioning several times.

The last time was on April 14, when Mahmud said his client was accused of breaching an order banning him from visiting the occupied West Bank.

He has previously been grilled over suspicions of involvement in the PA's arrest in October of American-Palestinian Issam Akel, who was accused in connection with the sale of an east Jerusalem building to Jewish buyers.

Such sales are considered treasonous among Palestinians opposed to Israeli settlers buying property to gain a foothold in Palestinian areas.

Akel was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Palestinian court, but he was reportedly later allowed to leave to the United States.

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