Israeli police said they have arrested Jerusalem Affairs Minister Fadi al-Hadami of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – a move Palestinians said was “routine” and part of a “harassment campaign”.
The Jerusalem Affairs Ministry said in a statement on Wednesday that Israeli forces raided the minister’s home before taking al-Hadami into custody.
Israeli police say he was arrested for conducting political activity in occupied East Jerusalem, according to The Associated Press.
Al-Hadami is charged with allegedly breaking a law prohibiting political activity by the PA in Jerusalem. The PA governs the occupied West Bank.
“He is being questioned by officers from the Jerusalem police district,” Israeli police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld, told Al Jazeera, without giving further information.
Israeli authorities also summoned Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, and his son when they raided Ghaith’s home in Silwan, occupied East Jerusalem, early on Wednesday morning, Palestinian news agency Wafa reported.
Ghaith is being sought for the same offence according to the Associated Press.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas‘s Fatah movement condemned the harassment of Palestinian officials in Jerusalem, saying the move was part of Israel’s efforts to consolidate its grip over the occupied city by not allowing any official Palestinian presence or activity in the city, Wafa reported.
Al-Hadami had been previously arrested in June. His lawyer was then quoted by Wafa as saying that the arrest was related to his accompanying Chilean President Sebastian Pinera during a visit to Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
Ghaith has also previously been arrested numerous times by Israeli forces.
“Anyone who is in any way associated with the PA in Jerusalem, they’re routinely arrested because Israel wants to make sure that there is no Palestinian representation in Jerusalem,” Diana Buttu, a Haifa-based analyst and former legal adviser to Palestinian peace negotiators, told Al Jazeera.
Yara Hawari, a Palestine policy fellow at Al-Shabaka think-tank, told Al Jazeera that the arrests are part of a harassment campaign and an attempt to sever Palestinian political connections to the city.
“They’re doing this in multiple ways – culturally, physically and this is a political attempt,” Hawari said.
“The accusations are often levelled against Hadami because of his various activities which include meeting foreign dignitaries or taking people on tours around Jerusalem, so it’s hardly anything that warrants arrest.”
The PA appoints officials for East Jerusalem, which Israel occupied in 1967 and later annexed in 1980 in a move never recognised by the international community.
Aside from daily affairs, the role of PA officials in East Jerusalem is mostly symbolic as Israel has full control over the city, which the Palestinians consider as the capital of their future state.