Israel extends arrest of Palestinian Jerusalem governor

Jerusalem: An Israeli court on Thursday extended the remand of the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem for three days following his arrest Sunday in connection with an investigation related to a land sale.

Palestinian officials have condemned the arrest of Adnan Gheith and claim it is intended to pressure the Palestinian leadership over the land sale case.

Jerusalem magistrate’s court extended Gheith’s remand until this Sunday as the investigation continues, police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld said.

Gheith was arrested on November 25 for the second time in as many months.

He was also taken for questioning a number of times in recent weeks and his office was raided on November 4.

Police have provided few details on the reason for his arrest other than saying it was over unlawful collaboration with Palestinian Authority (PA) security forces, which Israel says violates the Oslo accords.

Israeli media have reported that authorities have been investigating the governor following the PA’s arrest of an American-Palestinian 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.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who has been a supporter of Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, tweeted about the issue Wednesday.

He said that the PA “has been holding US citizen Isaam Akel in prison for ~2 months. His suspected ‘crime’? Selling land to a Jew … We demand his immediate release.”

A US State Department official said “we can confirm that a US citizen is being detained by the Palestinian Authority and is receiving consular services from US consular officials in Jerusalem”.

Fuad Hallaq, a senior advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organisation in Jerusalem, told AFP earlier this week that he believed the latest arrest was part of Israeli efforts to pressure the Palestinian leadership to release the man.

A lawyer for Gheith has said that 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”.

Besides Gheith’s arrest, 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.

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.

As a result, the PA has a minister for Jerusalem affairs and a Jerusalem governor located in Al-Ram, just on the other side of Israel’s separation wall from Jerusalem in the occupied West Bank.

[source_without_link]Agence France-Presse[/source_without_link]