Palestinian security forces in the West Bank on Monday arrested Prof. Abdul Sattar Qassem on charges of inciting against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Qassem, a former PA presidential candidate, was taken into custody from his home in Nablus. He teaches political science at An-Najah National University in Nablus.
Last week, Fatah accused Qassem of calling for the killing of Abbas and members of the PA security forces for their alleged collaboration with Israel.
In an interview with the Hammad-affiliated Al-Quds TV station, Qassem called for the implementation of the PLO’s “revolutionary law,” which imposes a death sentence on those found guilty of “high treason.”
Qassem’s remarks came in response to statements made by PA General Intelligence Chief Majed Faraj to the effect that the Palestinian security forces have foiled 200 attacks against Israel since October 2015. Faraj, in an interview with Defense News, also revealed that his forces have arrested 100 Palestinians who planned to launch attacks against Israelis.
Prior to his arrest, Qassem denied that he had called for the assassination of Abbas or any member of the PA security forces. “This is a lie,” he said in response to Fatah’s allegations.
“I didn’t call for killing anyone, and I’m not the one who decides on such matters. Only the relevant courts can decide on this matter.”
Yusef al-Mahmoud, spokesman for the Palestinian government, said that Qassem was arrested on orders from the general prosecutor. He said that the general prosecutor had received several complaints from Palestinians against Qassem.
“The arrest is not politically motivated,” al-Mahmoud claimed. “The security forces are an executive branch and they have nothing to do with the background for the arrest.”
Gen. Adnan Damiri, spokesman for the PA security forces in the West Bank, said that the professor was also suspected of “slandering” the PA. He said that Qassem would be brought before a court within 48 hours.
Qassem, an outspoken critic of the PA leadership and the Oslo Accords, was arrested a number of times in the past.
On two different occasions, unknown assailants fired several shots at him outside his home and his car was torched.
In 2011, the PA security forces arrested Qassem following a complaint filed against him by the administration of An-Najah National University, which was then headed by Palestinian Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah.
The university accused Qassem of inciting against its administration.