Israel raises stakes after the arrests of Hamas lawmakers

Israel raises stakes after the arrests of Hamas lawmakers

Israel raises stakes after the arrests of Hamas lawmakers

A Palestinian man sits in front of a picture of the Palestinian parliamentary speaker, Aziz Dweik, who was arrested by Israel. AFP photo

Israeli forces arrested a Hamas lawmaker at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah yesterday, a source from Hamas said. The news came shortly after Israeli police arrested two Hamas members who had been taking refuge in a building belonging to the International Committee of the Red Cross.

In a text-messaged statement, the group said Abdel Jaber Fuqaha was taken from his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah early yesterday. Hamas said Fuqaha was the fifth Hamas lawmaker to be arrested since last week. It said 24 of its 45 parliamentary members from the West Bank are currently in Israeli detention. Referring to earlier arrests, an Israeli police spokesman, Micky Rosenfeld, said the men, Khaled Abu Arfa and Mohammed Totah were wanted for “Hamas activities.”

Separate from the latest incidents, the Turkish Foreign Ministry has condemned the arrests of senior Hamas official Aziz Dweik, speaker of the Palestinian Parliament, and that of another Hamas lawmaker from Bethlehem, Khaled Tafish.

Mashaal to visit Jordan
They were arrested Jan. 19 on suspicion of involvement with terrorist groups. A statement on Jan. 23 by the ministry said that the arrests supported doubts that Israel was not sincere in the peace process. Meanwhile, the leader of Hamas, Khaled Mashaal, is due in Jordan on Jan. 29 on his first official visit since being expeled in 1999, according to a government spokesman. “His visit is part of a new chapter in relations between Jordan and Hamas. But this will not be at the expense of the Palestinian Authority, which is the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” Jordanian Information Minister Rakan Majali said.

“Reopening Hamas offices in Amman is not on the agenda.” However, the Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri, contradicted the Jordanian minister, saying the visit sought to “boost political cooperation, reorganize ties with Jordan and study the means to open a Hamas office in Amman.” Hamas also confirmed plans of Mashaal’s visit to Gaza for the first time, possibly accompanied by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.