The European Union expressed concern Thursday over Israel’s recent arrests of senior Palestinian Authority officials in Jerusalem.
The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah issued a statement after Israel arrested PA Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi al-Hidmi on Sunday for the third time in the past five months.
“The EU Missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah are concerned about the recent arrests and raids on senior PA representatives in Jerusalem,” the statement read.
Israel Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said Hidmi was collared, questioned and then released on Sunday as well as two other times in recent months on suspicions that he violated a law that bans PA activity in Jerusalem, without elaborating.
A 1994 law bars the PA from “operating offices and holding meetings in the State of Israel unless the prime minister or an authorized person issues a permit allowing it to do so.”
In the past year, Israeli authorities have shut down a number of allegedly PA-linked events in Jerusalem.
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Israel considers both the eastern and western parts of Jerusalem to be part of its sovereign territory. The Palestinians have said they want the eastern half of the city to be the capital of a future Palestinian state.
The EU, a major financial backer of the PA, has voiced support for the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Ahmad Safiya, Hidmi’s lawyer, said the interrogation of his client on Sunday focused on his “activity in serving the Palestinian citizens” of Jerusalem, the PA news site Wafa reported.
In the past year, the Israel Police has also arrested PA Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith several times.
Rosenfeld said that police nabbed Ghaith on suspicion that he also violated the law prohibiting PA activity in Jerusalem, without elaborating.
Both Hidmi and Ghaith were not available to comment for this story.