Hamas-affiliated East Jerusalem politician jailed, not "deported" — yet

East Jerusalem’s elected politician Mohammad Abu Tir was not summarily dumped on the other side of Qalandia Checkpoint (going to the West Bank) nor in front of Erez Terminal (leading to Gaza) after his arrest on Thursday in [Greater Municipal] Jerusalem. Instead, he was jailed pending an Israeli court hearing on Friday.

UPDATE: The Friday court hearing has been postponed until Sunday (and may well be postponed again…)

Three other Palestinian politicians whose “permanent resident” IDs have also been withdrawn by the Israeli police in recent weeks are Mohammed Totah, Khaled Abu Arafa, and Ahmed Atoun.

Their “crimes” were to have been elected to the Palestine Legislative Council (PLC) on the Hamas’ Change and Reform party platform in January 2006 elections. To general surprise, Hamas won a majority of seats in the PLC in elections it had to be coaxed into contesting. Hamas won in both Gaza AND the West Bank.

The four have made statements saying that they only represent their constituents in East Jerusalem, but for Israel this seems not to be enough. Israeli officials have indicated that they want a clear and unambiguous renunciation of Hamas.

The other three men now have a Saturday deadline to leave “Jerusalem” voluntarily.

One of the new charges against Abu Tir now, in fact, is that he was apprehended while trying to enter the State of Israel without a proper ID.

Fatah, which expected to win, as usual, as the largest Palestinian political movement, founded by the late Yasser Arafat and the only “home” many tens of thousands (if not more) of disenfranchised Palestinians have ever known, and the “Authority” which they ever felt represented them, however imperfectly, was furious.

Fatah, which has been headed by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas [Abu Mazen] ever since Arafat’s death, is still bitterly opposed to Hamas to this day, despite numerous national + international attempts to broker reconciliation between the two.
Fatah’s arguments against Hamas focus on denunciation of Islamic fundamentalist government and its alleged direction by Iran [with support from Syria!].

It is safe to say that despite President Abbas’ statement and actions against the deportation of Abu Tir [and three other elected members of the PLC, which, by the way, has been moribund for years precisely because Israel detained and jailed many of the then-newly-elected Hamas-affiliated members of the Palestinian [local, oPt] Parliament], his support was strictly limited and conditioned on the potential “deportees” renouncing their affiliation with Hamas.

It appears that they may not agree to accept this rather heavy-handed proposal.

Abu Tir may at least have a chance to fight his case in court before he is dumped across some unilaterally-declared “border”. The other three men now have a Saturday deadline to leave “Jerusalem” voluntarily —

But, until then, he is sitting in jail.

Abu Tir was just released from prison, a little more than a month ago, after serving over four years — for having been elected to the PLC on the Hamas-affiliated party list.

Ma’an News Agency reported that in Thursday’s court session, Abu Teir rejected a proposed settlement by which he would “move to the West Bank”. Ma’an adde and that “A condition of the move was that he paid the court a deposit of 1,000 shekels (approximately 260 US dollars) which would be confiscated should he return to Jerusalem … police detained Abu Teir near his East Jerusalem home on Thursday, saying he was illegally residing in the city following the revocation of his residency permit shortly before”.

“Deportation” is not only a violation of human rights and international humanitarian law — it is also a specific violation of the U.S.-sponsored Road Map, which was adopted by the Quartet [U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN]. And it would happen as the U.S. Special Envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, is engaged in coaxing the Israelis and Palestinians to make a great leap forward in negotiations to resolve their long-standing conflict.

According to Ma’an, “Palestinian officials and supporters continued a sit-in protest in solidarity with the lawmakers, which began Thursday, outside Red Cross headquarters in East Jerusalem”. The three other Palestinian politicians awaiting possible “deportation” were among them.

On Saturday, European diplomats visited, Ma’an reported, and “UN special coordinator Robert Serry is ‘closely following” the case, his spokesman said Thursday”. This Ma’an report is posted here.

Rarlier, Ma’an reported that Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat “says there is an agreement in place with the Israeli government not to detain, expel or restrict the movement of Palestinian lawmakers in Jerusalem”. Ma’an added that “Erekat informed European peace envoy Mark Otte of the agreement”. Erekat told Ma’an that “Abbas is personally following up on” the situation. This is published here .

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