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Photo by: Farah Studio Ramallah
Police: Palestinian PM’s convoy stopped in Area C for speeding
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH/TOVAH LAZAROFF
01/14/2014
An IDF officer noticed a convoy of vehicles that was "driving recklessly at excessive speeds and posing a danger to the public."
 
The IDF stopped Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah’s convoy Tuesday morning for speeding and driving dangerously in the West Bank’s Area C, according to police spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld.

An angry Hamdallah got out of his car and hurled accusations at the army for unjustly pulling over his convoy, as a mostly Palestinian crowd quickly gathered and traffic was brought to a standstill.

After about 20 minutes, during which Hamdallah spoke with PA President Mahmoud Abbas by phone, the prime minister drove away.

Rosenfeld provided The Jerusalem Post with a photograph that showed a convoy vehicle passing a car by crossing over a solid white line on Route 60 between Nablus and Ramallah, a road that has only one lane in either direction.

“The convoy drove at a high speed and overtook vehicles in a dangerous manner,” said Rosenfeld. “The IDF officer signaled to the vehicles to pull over.”

When the Judea and Samaria Police arrived, the drivers explained that the prime minister was in the car and they did not want to show identification, Rosenfeld continued. The police plan to question the drivers in the coming days, he said, adding that an investigation was also under way into the convoy’s presence in Area C without prior coordination with the police.

An activist from the Israeli NGO Tayush filmed the incident, catching snippets of conversation and statements by Hamdallah.

A few reporters also managed to make it to the scene and asked the prime minister what had happened.

Hamdallah charged that the IDF had deliberately targeted his convoy and forced it to stop while he was peacefully heading to his office.

“This is the car that blocked the road in front of me,” he said, pointing to an Israeli security vehicle.

“These are two soldiers who were waiting for me. They pushed me. They were going to turn my car over,” he charged angrily, adding, “They killed my three [children]... and they wanted to kill me.”

According to a New York Times report, Hamdullah lost three of his children in a car crash in 2000.

“We are talking about a two state vision, and these are the people who want to make peace with us – on the contrary,” he said. “This is our land, I am a Palestinian, and we are not leaving until we get an apology.”

At one point, the Tayush footage shows him talking to Abbas over the phone about the incident.

“Your excellency, they stopped us suddenly as we left,” he told Abbas. “They started it!” A number of witnesses said they believed an apology had been issued.

But Rosenfeld said the convoy had been stopped just like any other driver who was endangering others would have been.

If the convoy had been in Tel Aviv, the police would have stopped it, fined the drivers and placed points on their licenses, he said.

A spokesman for the PA government blamed the incident on settlers.

“A large number of settlers under the protection of the Israeli army stopped the convoy of Prime Minister Hamdallah,” the spokesman said, denouncing the move as a “green light for settler transgressions against the Palestinian people.”

The spokesman called on the international community to force Israel to “halt its violations against the Palestinians.”

Hamdallah later told reporters that those who had chased his car were carrying weapons. If it hadn’t been for his skilled drivers, he said, his car would have overturned.

“They chased us from the village of Enab, near Tulkarm,” he said. “They even stop President Abbas when he crosses the Jordan River bridge.
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