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Political arrests continue in the West Bank, despite unity agreement
Published Saturday 17/05/2014 (updated) 19/05/2014 12:13
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(MaanImages/file)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Despite the signing of a recent national unity agreement between Hamas and Fatah, arrests on the basis of political affiliation continue unabated in the West Bank, while summons on political affiliation continue in Gaza, a reconciliation committee alleges.

Khalil Assaf, a member of the Freedoms Committee in the West Bank, told Ma'an that political arrests by security forces in the region have continued since the sign of the Al-Shati (Beach) refugee camp agreement at the end of April, albeit at a slower pace than before.

Assaf stressed the need for a clear political decision to halt these arrests, highlighting that security forces continue to pursue individuals suspected of affiliation with Hamas in the West Bank on a near daily basis, especially among students and in the cities of Hebron and Tulkarem.

Despite the open presence of Hamas members in rallies and protests across the West Bank in recent weeks, Assaf warned that the campaigns of arrests "strained the reconciliation atmosphere" in the Fatah-led region.

The secretary of the Freedoms Committee in the Gaza Strip Khalil Abu Shamala, meanwhile, said that although the Hamas-run government was not engaging in political arrests in the coastal enclave, summons on grounds of political affiliation continued, albeit less frequently since the national unity agreement was signed.

Abu Shamala said that the Freedoms Committee, which was set up to help implement political reunification, has made a number of recommendations, especially with regards to the need to the distribution of passports to all people without exception.

Currently, Gaza residents must apply for passports through the mail to the West Bank, a process which causes substantial burden, but Abu Shamala said that soon people will be able to apply through the interior ministry in Gaza. Thousands of Gaza residents have been prevented from receiving passports during the seven years of division as a result of political tensions.

He also stressed that the next government will put an end to political arrests and that it will open all closed associations through the re-activation of the Associations Law.

The Freedoms Committee was set up as part of previous national reconciliation efforts in order to ensure the release of all political prisoners as well as to ensure the increase in political freedoms, the end of newspaper bans, and the reopening of charities and other bodies closed during around seven years political division between the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority government in the West Bank and the Hamas-run Gaza Strip.

The committee's work has become more urgent since the April 23 deal of national unification was signed by the two largest Palestinian political movements, Hamas and Fatah.

The deal gave both sides five weeks to set up a government of national unity.
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1 ) Tibi / Tubas
17/05/2014 22:41
The PLO already made the mistake of trusting Hamas too much once, and without such political arrests, another Gaza-like Hamas overthrow in the West Bank would be worse both for "Unity" and the people !!

2 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
17/05/2014 23:13
More proof that Palestine will not be a democracy. I'm trying to remember what the reason was for the UN accepting that occupied TransJordan is something called Palestine, a country that never before existed in history. It must have something todo with a terrorist organization that held Europe hostage back in the 70s and entered the Olympics by creating a new sport: athlete and coach killing. The Palestinians are still the world champs, no?

3 ) Tobias / USA
18/05/2014 01:40
- Hamas already proved to the PLO, that they should not have been so trusted in Gaza, after they seized control by military coup, so - The PLO would be stupid to trust them now in the West Bank !!

4 ) Mel / USA
18/05/2014 12:59
#'s 1,2,3:LOL! You guys are so hilarious in your SHILLarity! What,have you just received your hasbara-of-the-week certificates from your yeshiva daddies? You are just pining,like vultures,for the unity-attempt to FAIL,so Zionism's apartheid persecution, &"lebensraum"of pluralistic Palestine,can continue.Dudes,why don't you just trundle down to your Troll('Death to Arabs'Bridge,in Teddy Stadium?Shillarious indoctrination! LOL!

5 ) Arnold / Canada
18/05/2014 16:14
Mel / USA. You live in the USA and see how the Republicans and the Democrats are constantly bickering with one another yet come together in times of national crisis, but they stay as two opposing political entities. That is the building block of a democratic state. Yes the PA and Hamas should reconcile to be on the same page for the betterment of Palestine but after that they should be the cornerstone for a two party or more political system. Party in power and loyal opposition.

6 ) Mitri I. Musleh / Canada
18/05/2014 16:59
The freedom committee first step of action should be on unifying the Palestinian struggle. The Palestinian struggle is not about Fatah or Hamas, it is about Palestine and the Palestinians. You can start spreading the word around that Palestine is not Fatah or Hamas. It is both and all other PLO factions. Distribution of Passports is important but is not as urgent as the unification and the defining of the Palestinian struggle.

7 ) @ Mel-4 / USA too
18/05/2014 22:55
Actually, I do not care "unity" (on paper), and I don't understand why anyone else cares either, since with Israel Geographically dividing Hamas' Gaza Strip from the PLO's Areas A/B of the West Bank, [a] There Can be No Real Unity, and even with a "Unity on Paper", [b] There can be No Palestinian State without Peace talks concluded with Israel, which requires that Arabs first drop their talks Preconditions*, and then make many Compromises* !! * Realistic people know this will never happen
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