Israel detains fourth Palestinian lawmaker

Jan. 24, 2012 at 7:37 AM
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RAMALLAH, West Bank, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Israeli military arrested a fourth Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament Tuesday, which Hamas charged was an attempt to "thwart Palestinian reunification."

Soldiers took Abul Jabbar Fuqaha into custody at his home in Ramallah, West Bank, several days after detaining Palestinian Legislative Council member Mohammad Tawtah and former Jerusalem Affairs Minister Khalid Abu Arafa at an International Red Cross facility in East Jerusalem, and detaining lawmaker Khaled Tafesh in his Bethlehem home, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported.

Hamas' political arm issued a statement condemning an "arrogant Zionist policy against Hamas figures."

Also Tuesday, an Israeli military court ordered Palestinian parliamentary speaker Aziz Dweik be held for six months without any charges filed against him, Ma'an said.

Dweik, arrested at a Ramallah checkpoint Thursday, leads the Palestinian Legislative Council.

The legislative body's speaker's office denounced the arrest as an "abusive decision without any charge or legal justification" and accused Israel of trying to block a parliamentary session next month.

"It is an Israeli attempt to thwart Palestinian reconciliation," the statement said.

Tawtah and Abu Arafa reportedly were living in the Red Cross facility for 18 months after Israeli officials revoked their residency permits, Ma'an said.

Shin Bet, Israel's security arm, ordered the two to leave after having their Jerusalem residency revoked, The Jerusalem Post reported. Interior Minister Eli Yishai revoked their residency cards last year after they refused to renounce their ties to Hamas.

The detainees are members of the Change and Reform Party, affiliated with Hamas.

The Palestinian Legislative Council has been dormant since Hamas drove Fatah from Gaza in 2007 after Hamas claimed victory in parliamentary elections. In May 2011, they signed a reconciliation agreement that hasn't been implemented.

The prisoner rights group Addameer said 27 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council are in Israeli jails.

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