RAMALLAH, July 1 (JMCC) - Israeli police arrested late Wednesday Palestinian parliamentarian Mohammad Abu Tir. Officials said he would attend a court hearing Thursday that would determine whether he is further detained or fined and deported.
Abu Tir and three other officials affiliated with Hamas
were given one month to leave Jerusalem
in June for their affiliation with the Islamist group.
“The war against us has started, Khaled Abu Arafeh, former minister of Jerusalem affairs said. Parliament member Abu Tir is the first target and we know we are soon to follow. He was arrested on the doorstep of his home and led to jail, to be expelled later from the city of Jerusalem where he was born.”
Israeli police said that Abu Tir had been arrested only after his refusal to comply with the expulsion order.
Spokesperson Luba Samri said, “Israeli police have arrested Mohammad Abu Tir after his long evasion and refusal to abide by the expulsion court order issued against him. Nobody can elude the police. Abu Tir will be seen in court tomorrow [Thursday] and the necessary measures will be taken.”
Samri said that they court could also choose to fine and detain Abu Tir before implementing the expulsion order.
The spokesperson denied reports of a deal annulling the deportation orders against the four politicians, saying that a decision like that would “require a new court order and high-level political commands.”
Media reports stated this week that Israel
had offered to annul the deportation orders if the four would renounce their affiliation with Hamas. “That’s nonsense,” Samri said.Hatem Abdel Qader
, a Jerusalem Fateh official, said that “All efforts to prevent the deportation of Abu Tir were in vain. His arrest is undoubtedly in preparation for his deportation. The deportation may take place tomorrow، or they might stall by keeping Abu Tir in jail, but he will undoubtedly be deported.”
Abdel Qader was warned in a police interview several weeks ago that he, too, was in danger of being deported unless he stops his political activities in Jerusalem.
“This will not end with Abu Tir or the rest facing expulsion, but will affect many others. he said.
The arrest of the parliamentarian coincides with the arrival of US envoy George Mitchell to the region to meet with Israeli and Palestinian officials and discuss the continuation of peace negotiations.
At press time, political groups in Jerusalem were planning to hold a sit-in at the US
Consulate against Israeli actions in the city. The demonstrators were to hand a list of demands to US officials, asking for the immediate annulment of the deportation orders.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas
is expected to ask Mitchell to put pressure on Israel to stop the deportation of Abu Tir.
“They [Israeli officials] purposefully executed the order hours before the arrival of Mitchell in order to distract him from many other issues taking place in Jerusalem aimed at ending the Arab presence in the city,” siad Abdel Qader.
Not long before his arrest, JMCC.org spoke to parliament member Abu Tir. He was refusing to voluntarily implement the expulsion order. “I am staying here until my death or my arrest, he said. I am not leaving my land.”
The three Hamas parliamentarians were elected to office in 1996, when Hamas won a majority in a general vote. Former minister Abu Arafeh served in a national unity government between Hamas and Fateh
that crumbled after Hamas forces took over security installations in the Gaza Strip
, thus dividing the Palestinian leadership between Hamas in Gaza and Fateh in the West Bank