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Israeli forces seize MP in Ramallah

Jan. 24, 2012 10:33 A.M. (Updated: Jan. 25, 2012 3:27 P.M.)
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Israeli forces detained Palestinian lawmaker Abul Jabbar Fuqaha from his Ramallah home on Tuesday morning, the fourth MP from a Hamas-affiliated party seized by Israel in five days.

Early Tuesday, Israeli soldiers ransacked Fuqaha's home in the Al-Maysoun neighborhood of West Bank city Ramallah, before detaining the lawmaker.

Fuqaha, 43, was released from Israeli jail in February 2011 after serving two years administrative detention without charge.

The office of the Change and Reform bloc, affiliated to Hamas, slammed the detention as continuing the "arrogant Zionist policy against Hamas figures," in messages sent to mobile phones.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said she was looking into the detention.

On Monday Israeli forces seized MP Mohammad Tawtah and former Jerusalem affairs' minister Khalid Abu Arafa from inside premises of the International Red Cross in East Jerusalem, where they had been sheltering for 18 months after Israel revoked their residency permits.

Just days earlier, forces seized MP Khaled Tafesh in Bethlehem and parliament speaker Aziz Dweik at a checkpoint near Ramallah.

On Monday, lawmakers protested Dweik's arrest in Ramallah and urged international parliaments to intervene.

"The speaker of the Legislative Council, Dr. Aziz Dweik, has been kidnapped for the second time -- in a terrorist way -- by these gangs that are controlling this occupied country," PLC member Ahmad Mubarak said.

Dweik faced an Israeli military court on Sunday but the trial was postponed.

"Because we decided re-open the legislative council meetings sessions. They do not want me to open the session of the council meeting," Dweik told reporters in Ofer military court.

PLO official Saeb Erekat, who is holding exploratory talks with Israeli envoys in Jordan, said on Monday the detention of the politicians "exposes the farcical nature of (Israel's) peace rhetoric." He urged the international Quartet, which is brokering the talks, to intervene.

All four lawmakers and the former minister detained in the last week were elected to the Change and Reform bloc, and Hamas movement accused Israel of trying to thwart the party's reconciliation with Fatah.

The Palestinian parliament has been inactive since Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in 2007, a year after Hamas won parliamentary elections. The parties signed a reconciliation agreement in May 2011 but it has yet to be implemented.

There are now 27 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council detained in Israeli jails, according to prisoners rights group Addameer.
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