JERUSALEM: Israeli police have arrested the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) governor of Jerusalem for the second time in as many months after an investigation related to a land sale.
Adnan Gheith was arrested in east Jerusalem overnight, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said on Sunday in a statement, without providing details.
Jerusalem magistrate’s court extended his remand until Thursday. Judge Chavi Toker was presented with “secret evidence” and said the reason for his arrest was unlawful collaboration with the PA’s security forces, which Israel says violates the Oslo accords.
Gheith, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Silwan, was appointed governor in September and has been arrested a number of times since then.
On October 20, he was detained for two days of questioning before being released, with Israel’s Shin Bet domestic security agency claiming it was over “illegal activity by the [PA] in Jerusalem”.
He was also taken for questioning a number of times in recent weeks and his office was raided on Nov 4.
The PA’s Jerusalem affairs minister, Adnan al-Husseini, has also been given a three-month travel ban by Israeli authorities, according to Palestinian officials.
Israeli media have reported that authorities have been investigating the governor following the PA’s arrest of a man in October accused of being involved in selling property in east Jerusalem to a Jewish buyer.
Such sales are considered treasonous among Palestinians concerned with Israeli settlers buying property in east Jerusalem. But among Israelis, there have been calls for authorities to free the man arrested by the PA over the sale.
Fuad Hallaq, a senior adviser to the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Jerusalem, said he believed the latest arrest was part of Israeli efforts to pressure the Palestinian leadership to release the man.
A lawyer for Gheith said the governor had committed no crimes, adding that “the feeling is that the police are trying to prevent the defendant from functioning in his position”.
Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.
It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
PA activities are barred from Jerusalem by Israel.
Published in Dawn, November 26th, 2018