Abbas slams Israel’s plan to expel Hamas legislators

PA chief says move is dangerous and complicates efforts to achieve peace.

abbas closeup 298 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
abbas closeup 298 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
Israel’s decision to revoke the permanent residency status of four Hamas representatives from east Jerusalem is extremely dangerous and complicates efforts to achieve peace, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas cautioned on Thursday.
Three Hamas legislators and a former minister from the Islamist movement have been stripped of their Israeli-issued ID cards and ordered to leave Jerusalem.
The decision to confiscate their ID cards and deport them from the city was taken by the Interior Ministry because of their affiliation with a terror organization. Last week the High Court of Justice upheld the decision.
“No one can tolerate the expulsion of people from their homes or the revocation of their [Jerusalem] ID cards,” Abbas told reporters after meeting in Ramallah with Austrian Chancellor Werner Faymann. “This is something unimaginable.”  
Abbas condemned the Israeli decision as a major obstacle to peace.
On Wednesday night, Abbas met in his office with three of the Hamas representatives slated for deportation from Jerusalem: legislators Ahmed Attoun and Mohammed Totah and former [Hamas] Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Khaled Abu Arafeh. The fourth Hamas representative who has also been ordered to leave Jerusalem is Mohammed Abu Tir, who was recently released from an Israeli prison.
The meeting between Abbas and the Hamas representatives was the first of its kind in many months. Abbas has rarely met with Hamas members since the movement seized full control of the Gaza Strip three years ago.
Abbas’s security forces in the West Bank have been launching a massive crackdown on Hamas supporters over the past two years. Nearly 1,000 Hamas supporters are believed to be held without trial in various PA-controlled prisons throughout the West Bank.
Nimer Hammad, a political adviser to Abbas, condemned the decision to deport the Hamas men from Jerusalem as “part of Israel’s policy of ethnic cleansing” in the city.
He said that the PA would do its utmost to prevent the deportation of the men from Jerusalem. He pointed out that the Hamas legislators had been elected in the 2006 parliamentary election.
“We can’t talk about making peace while Israel is continuing to demolish houses, confiscate lands and expel people from their homes in Jerusalem,” Hammad said.
He added that Israel’s “arbitrary measures” against Arabs in Jerusalemwere at the top of Abbas’s agenda. “The president raises this issue atall meetings,” the adviser said. “We have also raised this problem withthe Americans.”
Abu Tir said that the Jerusalem Police have asked him to leave the city by Friday midnight.
He claimed that a police officer who phoned him with the message warnedhim that he would face arrest and forced expulsion if he did not leaveJerusalem voluntarily before the end of the deadline. Abu Tir, aresident of the village of Sur Bahir in Jerusalem, said he has no otherplace to go to.
“I’m not leaving my city Jerusalem and I’m not afraid of beingarrested,” Abu Tir said. “I have spent 25 years of my life in Israeliprison and nothing will deter me. This is my home and city and I’m notleaving.”