Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS/MOHAMAD TOROKMAN)
Palestinian Authority security forces on Friday arrested Ibrahim Abu Salem, a Hamas member of the Palestinian parliament – the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC).
Abu Salem, 71, who hails from the village of Bir Nabala, south of Ramallah, is the first PLC member to be arrested since PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s recent decision to dissolve the parliament. He was elected to the PLC in the January 2006 parliamentary election. Abu Salem, who also served as a preacher at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque, was among the 400 Hamas and Islamic Jihad members who were temporarily deported by Israel to Marj al-Zuhour, Lebanon, after the kidnapping and murder of Border Policeman Nissim Toledano in 1992.
Because Bir Nabala, which is close to Jerusalem’s Atarot Industrial Park
, is part of the PA’s “Jerusalem District,” Abu Salem was elected as a representative of the district in the PLC. He was part of the Hamas-affiliated Reform and Change list.
Abbas’s decision to dissolve the PLC effectively stripped Abu Salem and all council members of their parliamentary immunity – paving the way for the PA security forces to take security and legal action against them.
A PA security official in Ramallah refused to comment on the arrest of Abu Salem.
Hamas strongly condemned the arrest of its senior official, calling it a “flagrant assault on and clear disregard of the history of Palestinian struggle.” Noting that Abu Salem had spent a total of 17 years in Israeli prison for security-related offenses, Hamas said that the PA’s “continued policy of repression and violation of public freedoms was causing huge damage” to the Palestinians and their cause.
Ahmed Bahr, a senior Hamas official
in the Gaza Strip, condemned the arrest of Abu Salem and accused the PA of “playing with fire.” The PA, he said, “is driving the Palestinians towards the abyss.”
Several Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, also lashed out at the PA for arresting the Hamas parliamentarian. The factions said that the PA’s ongoing security crackdown on Hamas members in the West Bank is a severe blow to efforts to end the Hamas-Fatah rift and achieve Palestinian unity.
Abu Salem was one of eight Hamas members who were arrested by the PA security forces over the weekend, according to sources close to Hamas.
Another Hamas member, Salim Shamasneh, was arrested by the PA in the village of Qattanah, 12 km. northwest of Jerusalem. The sources claimed that Shamasneh was brutally beaten by PA security officers during his arrest.
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