Hamas called on the Palestinian Authority over the weekend to suspend talks in Jordan with Israel, in protest against the arrest of Abdel Aziz Dweik, the speaker of the Hamas-dominated Palestinian Legislative Council.

Dweik, a prominent political figure in Hamas, was arrested last Thursday by the IDF in the West Bank.

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Hours later, the IDF also arrested Khaled Tafesh, a Hamas legislator from Bethlehem.

Hamas and Fatah leaders strongly condemned the arrest of Dweik and accused Israel of seeking to foil efforts to achieve reconciliation between the two parties.

“We hold the occupation fully responsible for the safety of Dweik,” said a Hamas spokesman in Gaza City.

“We also call upon the Palestinian Authority to halt all forms of negotiations and security coordination with the Zionist enemy.”

Hamas also appealed to the Egyptians to intervene with Israel to secure the release of Dweik, the spokesman said.

Dweik, who is being held at Ofer Prison near Ramallah, said in a letter through his lawyer that his arrest was aimed at foiling the reconciliation process with Fatah and preventing the Palestinian parliament from convening.

Dweik was planning to hold a special session of the legislative council for the first time since Hamas seized control over the entire Gaza Strip in 2007. Since then, the parliament has not been able to meet.

“I was planning to convene the parliament at the beginning of February,” Dweik said in his letter.

Dweik, who lives in Hebron, was arrested in 2006 following the kidnapping of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. He was released three years later.

Since his release, the PA has banned him from returning to his office in the parliament building in Ramallah.

Government officials said Hamas has consistently called for the Palestinian Authority to suspend talks with Israel, and that there was nothing new in their issuing a call now. The officials said there was at the same time a great deal of international pressure on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to continue the talks.

Hamas also announced Saturday that PA security forces have arrested five more Hamas supporters in the West Bank.

Among those arrested are three university students from Nablus and Ramallah and two Palestinians who had just been released from an Israeli prison.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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