Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas gestures as he speaks during a ceremony marking the 14th anniversary of the death of late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, November 11, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMAD TOROKMAN/REUTERS)
Israeli authorities have stepped up their measures against Palestinian Authority officials who are suspected of carrying out political and security activities in east Jerusalem. The measures are aimed at punishing the PA officials for targeting east Jerusalem residents involved in real estate transactions with Israeli Jews.
Last month, the PA security forces arrested Esam Aqel, a US citizen from east Jerusalem, for his alleged role in the sale of an Arab-owned house in the Old City of Jerusalem to an Israeli Jewish organization.
The PA, according to Israeli security sources, has also threatened a number of east Jerusalem residents suspected of involvement in the sale of other houses to Israeli Jewish organizations.
The sources told The Jerusalem Post
that the PA was continuing to act in violation of the law by carrying out various activities within the area of Israel, including east Jerusalem. An Israeli law passed in 1995 bans the PA from engaging in political, diplomatic, security or security-related activities within the area of Israel, including east Jerusalem.
Last week, the Israel Police summoned PA Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Adnan Husseini, to the Jerusalem Police Headquarters and handed him an order banning him from leaving the country for three months. Husseini was also requested to deposit his passport with the police to ensure that he does not leave the country.
The move is aimed at preventing Husseini from travelling to Lebanon to attend an international conference organised by the United Nations, Palestinian sources said. Husseini, a resident of east Jerusalem who holds an Israeli ID card, served until last August as the PA Governor of Jerusalem.
According to the security sources, the decision to ban Husseini from leaving the country was also taken because of the PA’s ongoing campaign against east Jerusalem residents who are suspected of involvement in the sale of properties to Israeli Jewish organizations.
Last Thursday, the IDF issued an order banning another senior PA official, Adnan Geith, from contacting or meeting with a number of Palestinian activists and officials. Geith, who replaced Husseini as PA Governor of Jerusalem, was also banned from entering the West Bank for six months - a move that prevents him from arriving at his office in the village of Al-Ram, south of Ramallah.
Last month, the Israel Police arrested Geith, who also holds an Israeli ID card, on suspicion of involvement in the arrest of the American Palestinian citizen who was allegedly involved in the sale of a house to an Israeli Jewish organization. Geith was released after four days in detention. Two weeks ago, the Israel Police dispersed an illegal meeting chaired by Gheith in the east Jerusalem neigborhood of Silwan.
Another senior PA intelligence officer, Jihad Faqeeh, was also arrested for his role in the arrest of the American Palestinian citizen. He too was released after four days.
Also last week, the Defence Ministry’s Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories revoked the VIP card of PA Attorney General, Ahmad Barrak because of his role in the PA crackdown on east Jerusalem residents. The card allows senior PA officials freedom of movement within the West Bank and Israel.
The security sources told the Post
that the authorities were planning additional measures against several other PA civilian and security officials who are believed to be carrying out various activities in east Jerusalem in violation of the law
. The measures, they disclosed, will specifically affect east Jerusalem residents who serve in the PA security forces in the West Bank.
Earlier this month, Israeli security forces raided the offices of the PA Ministry of Jerusalem Affairs in Al-Ram and confiscated documents and computers. The raid was in the context of an ongoing investigation into the activities of the PA in east Jerusalem, especially the crackdown on residents involved in real estate transactions with Israeli Jews, the sources explained.
Osama Qawassmeh, a spokesman for the ruling Fatah faction, revealed last week that the crackdown on east Jerusalem residents suspected of selling properties to Israeli Jews was being carried out on “direct orders” from PA President Mahmoud Abbas.
The PA condemned the recent Israeli measures against some of its officials and called on the international community to hold Israel accountable for “violations of international humanitarian and international laws.
“We strongly condemn the arbitrary decisions taken by the Israeli occupation authorities to punish and further obstruct the work of the two main legitimate political Palestinian authorities in occupied East Jerusalem - PLO Executive Committee member Adnan Husseini and Governor Adnan Gheith - by restricting their movement, denying them the right to travel, and even by preventing them from speaking to fellow Palestinian personalities,” said PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat. “East Jerusalem is an occupied territory, Israel is the occupying power and its annexation of the Palestinian capital is null and void.”
PA government spokesman Yusef al-Mahmoud also condemned the recent Israeli measures, dubbing them an “aggression on our occupied capital, our people and our leadership.” He said that the “occupied Arab city of Jerusalem is the capital of the Palestinian state and the symbol of the existence of our Palestinian people.”
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