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Haniyeh: PLO must suspend Israel talks until MPs freed

Jan. 20, 2012 3:03 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 21, 2012 2:14 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Friday called on the PLO to suspend talks with Israel until PLC speaker Aziz Dweik is released.

"A Palestinian should not shake the hand of his enemy, the enemy who arrests the symbols of Palestinian legitimacy," Haniyeh said after Friday prayers in Gaza City.

"This is the minimal response to the detention of Dweik and all lawmakers until they're freed."

Israeli forces detained Dweik, the speaker of the Palestinian parliament, at a checkpoint near Ramallah on Thursday. Witnesses told Ma'an the MP was blindfolded and handcuffed during the arrest.

On Friday, Israeli soldiers detained MP Khaled Ibrahim Tafesh, 50, from his home in Bethlehem and confiscated his computer and mobile phone.

The detentions raise the number of Palestinian parliamentarians in Israeli jails to 25, according to figures from prisoner rights group Addameer.

Haniyeh called for a parliamentary session to be held in February to respond to the detentions.

He said "futile and unsuccessful" negotiations with Israel must stop. PLO officials have held three meetings with Israeli envoys in Amman in January for "exploratory talks" to try and restart full negotiations.

PLC deputy speaker Ahmad Bahar echoed the call, telling reporters on Friday that President Mahmoud Abbas must declare "an immediate stop to the negotiations in Amman in respect of our people and in respect of the parliament and its head."

Bahar said Israel detained Dweik to try and thwart reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah and to prevent Palestinian elections.

Haniyeh said the detention called for greater efforts to achieve national unity, adding that Palestinian reconciliation was incompatible with security coordination with Israel.

"We want to see the security coordination with the (Israeli) occupation stopped," Haniyeh said.

"Palestinian reconciliation and security cooperation with the occupation are two parallel lines that cannot meet."

Hamas is fiercely critical of security coordination between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority and Israel.
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