Mohammed Abu Teir was one of four senior Hamas officials that Israel has been trying to expel in recent weeks, sparking concern among Arabs in the city about their rights as residents. “We arrested him; he has broken the law and stayed within the borders of the state of Israel,” Shmulik Ben-Ruby, the Israeli police spokesman for Jerusalem, said on Wednesday.
“He has been detained and taken for questioning.” Israel had sought to strip Abu Teir, Khaled Abu Arafeh, a former minister for Jerusalem affairs, and Ahmad Atoun and Mohammed Totah, both MPs, of their Israeli-issued identity cards. The men have appealed the decision and Abu Teir was due to appear in court on Thursday.
IDs revoked: Many Palestinians fear their expulsion could set a precedent for the removal of more of the nearly 270,00 Paletinians living in east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 in a move not recognised internationally.
Palestinians living in east Jerusalem hold Israeli-issued IDs that allow them to travel freely in Israel and the West Bank, collect government benefits and vote in local but not national elections. The Palestinians want east Jerusalem to be the capital of their future state, while Israel views the entire city as its “eternal, indivisible” capital.
Israel has said they are being expelled because they are members of Hamas, which Israel, the United States and the European Union consider a “terrorist” organisation, although it won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006. Abu Teir was among dozens of Hamas politicians from Jerusalem and the West Bank that Israel rounded up after the polls. He was freed in May, but was then told his Israeli-issued ID was being revoked.