Israel arrests PA’s Jerusalem governor in Beit Hanina

Palestinian Authority intelligence official also reportedly picked up by security forces in the West Bank

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith. (Screenshot: YouTube)
Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith. (Screenshot: YouTube)

Israeli security forces arrested Palestinian Authority Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith Saturday evening, the Palestinian official’s brother and the Palestine Liberation Organization said on Sunday.

A large group of Israeli security forces nabbed Ghaith on his way out of a family member’s wedding in Jerusalem’s Beit Hanina neighborhood, Hani Ghaith said.

“Several cars of Israeli forces kidnapped him on his way out of the wedding,” he said in a phone call.

A spokesperson for the Shin Bet security service referred questions to the Israel Police.

When asked about Hani’s comments, Mickey Rosenfeld, a spokesman for the Israel Police, said, “Two people were arrested and there is an ongoing investigation taking place.”

Rosenfeld declined to confirm if Ghaith was one of the two people he said were arrested or provide any other details.

Muhammed Mahmoud, Ghaith’s lawyer, told the official PA news site Wafa that Israeli authorities had collared his client on “the pretext” that he “perpetrated an offense in Palestinian land.”

A picture taken from the Mount of Olives shows the Old City of Jerusalem with the Dome of the Rock shrine in the center, on December 6, 2017. (AFP Photo/Ahmad Gharabli)

The Wafa report did not describe the nature of the alleged offense.

Mahmoud also said that Ghaith would be put before a military court within the next four days.

In late August, 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 his new role, Ghaith is responsible for overseeing the PA’s operations in the neighborhoods within its jurisdiction on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Israel seldom arrests high-ranking PA officials.

However, Israeli security forces have arrested Ghaith many times in the past several years including on suspicion of incitement, his brother Hani said.

In the past couple of months, Ghaith, alongside Jerusalem-based Fatah activists, has spent several hours a week at Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the West Bank slated for demolition. Last Thursday in Khan al-Ahmar, Fatah spokesman Osama Qawasma featured Ghaith, clad in a black suit, in a Facebook Live broadcast.

The Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Ahmar, east of Jerusalem in the West Bank, is seen decorated with Palestinian flags on October 2, 2018. (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI)

On Saturday, Israeli security forces arrested Jihad Faqih, the Jerusalem director of the PA General Intelligence Services, the official PA news site Wafa reported.

Eyewitnesses said security forces arrested Faqih near Al-Judeira, a village in the central West Bank, and brought him to a detention center in Jerusalem, according to the Wafa report.

The Shin Bet spokesperson also referred questions on the report of Faqih’s arrest to the police.

When asked about the report of Faqih’s arrest, Rosenfeld reiterated, “Two people were arrested and there is an ongoing investigation taking place.”

He declined to confirm if Faqih was one of two people arrested.

Adnan al-Husseini, a Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee member and a former PA Jerusalem governor, condemned the arrests of Ghaith and Faqih, contending that they “target the Palestinian presence in Jerusalem,” Wafa reported.

Husseini called on the international community to intervene to secure the two PA officials’ release.

Yousif Mahmoud, a spokesman for the PA government, described the arrests as “a new crime at the expense of our people, its leadership and its eternal capital,” Wafa reported.

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has long said it supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

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