Israel arrests PA minister for conducting political activity in Jerusalem

Jerusalem PA governor Adnan Ghaith sought for same offense; Palestinian official says arrest meant to stop ‘social and cultural activities’

Screen capture from video of Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Fadi al-Hadami. (YouTube)
Screen capture from video of Palestinian Authority Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Fadi al-Hadami. (YouTube)

Israeli police on Wednesday said they arrested the Palestinian Authority Minister of Jerusalem Affairs, Fadi al-Hadami, for conducting political activity in East Jerusalem.

Police said Fadi al-Hadami was charged with allegedly breaking a law prohibiting the Palestinian Authority from carrying out political activities in Jerusalem.

The PA governor of Jerusalem Adnan Ghaith was summoned for questioning on the same offense.

Palestinian official Adnan Husseini said in a statement that Hadami’s arrest was meant to stop “social and cultural activities.”

An Israeli policeman watches over the Palestinian Authority’s Jerusalem governor, Adnan Ghaith, during a court appearance following his arrest in Jerusalem, November 29, 2018. (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

Sources told Wafa, the official PA news site, that Hadami was arrested in a raid on his home in the early hours of Wednesday, but that when security forces arrived at Ghaith’s East Jerusalem residence, he was not there. Family members were given a summons for Ghaith and his son.

Hadami was detained, and later released, by Israeli authorities in June after questioning him over claims that he had organized activities in the city in violation of Israeli rules. Lawyer Mohannad Jbara said that arrest was due to activities including accompanying Chile’s president during a visit to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex on the Temple Mount.

Ghaith has been detained frequently in the past, including on suspicion of incitement.

He was arrested in April after he allegedly violated an order previously given to him by authorities, police and his lawyer said.

Ghaith and a second individual said to be his lawyer were detained in February on suspicion of violating a law that limits PA activity in Jerusalem, as well as fraud and forgery. Authorities were reportedly investigating the governor following the PA’s arrest of a Palestinian-American man accused of involvement in selling a property in East Jerusalem to a Jewish buyer. PA courts have previously sentenced Palestinians to death for selling land to Jews. Since 2005, however, the PA has not carried out any executions.

Last October, Ghaith was detained for two days of questioning before being released, with the Shin Bet domestic security agency saying it was over “illegal activity by the [Palestinian Authority] in Jerusalem,” and he was arrested again in November.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas addresses the Fourth National Forum for the Fourth Industrial Revolution during the forum’s opening session in the West Bank city of Ramallah, September 9 2019. (Nasser Nasser/AP)

PA President Mahmoud Abbas appointed Ghaith, a resident of Jerusalem’s Silwan neighborhood and a longtime Fatah activist, to the role of PA Jerusalem governor in August 2018. In his role, Ghaith is responsible for overseeing PA activity in the neighborhoods within its jurisdiction on the edges and outside of Jerusalem.

Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six Day War and later annexed it. Most of the international community has never recognized the annexation, though US President Donald Trump’s administration became the first to do so in 2017.

Israel almost entirely does not allow the PA to operate within Jerusalem.

The Israeli government sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

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