Israel frees PA minister for Jerusalem affairs hours after arrest

Fadi al-Hadami’s lawyer says detention was due to recent activities, including accompanying Chile’s president on a visit to the Temple Mount

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 Sunday released the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs from custody, after questioning him over claims that he had organized activities in the city in violation of Israeli rules, his lawyer said.

Fadi al-Hadami was arrested in his East Jerusalem home early Sunday and taken for questioning, with a police spokesman saying he had been involved in unspecified “activities in Jerusalem.”

His lawyer Mohannad Jbara said the arrest was due to recent activities that have included accompanying Chile’s president during a visit to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex on the Temple Mount. Jbara said Hadami was released Sunday afternoon.

Israel has detained the previous PA Jerusalem minister on several occasions, as well as the PA’s governor of Jerusalem.

On Tuesday, Hadami was seen alongside Chilean President Sebastian Pinera, on a tour of the holy site.

Chilean President Sebastian Pinera visits at the Church of the Nativity in the West Bank city of Bethlehem, June 25, 2019. (Wisam Hashlamoun/ Flash90)

That infuriated Israel, which said the tour constituted a violation of regulations and a breach of understandings reached with Santiago for the head of state’s visit. According to the Foreign Ministry, the two countries had agreed beforehand that Pinera would not be accompanied by any Palestinian officials.

The status of the Temple Mount, located above the Western Wall, is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest for Muslims, after Mecca and Medina, administered by the Muslim Waqf, but secured by Israeli police.

Chile later said Pinera’s visit was private, with Hadami’s presence not part of official protocol.

Hadami’s arrest also came after days of violent unrest in Jerusalem.

Overnight Saturday, Israeli police “continued dealing with riots and disturbances in a number of neighborhoods, when stones were thrown at officers and fireworks fired at them,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement.

Two officers were wounded and six suspects arrested, Rosenfeld said.

The continued unrest followed the shooting of a 20-year-old Palestinian in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Issawiya by Israeli police, after he had allegedly thrown fireworks at them.

The young man, identified as Mohammed Obeid, died of his wounds, the Palestinian health ministry said.

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.

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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