The Israeli occupation authorities have released the Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr Aziz Dweik. Dr. Dweik was handed over yesterday (Thursday) at the Beit Sira Checkpoint west of Ramallah following six months in administrative detention. The organisation for the defence of Dr Dwiek had submitted a request to the Israeli military court in Ofer for his release the day before yesterday on the grounds that the charges against him were unsubstantiated and that his continued detention was illegal.
Immediately after his release, Dr Dweik requested the Palestinians to stay united and said that he carried a message of unity from Palestinian prisoners inside Israeli jails. He also emphasised the necessity for popular freedom in the West Bank prior to entering any discussions on local or general elections.
Sixty-five year old Dr Dweik was elected unanimously as Chairman of the Palestinian Legislative Council by the parliamentary bloc following his success in the second legislative elections of 2006. He stood for election on the Change and Reform list in the West Bank.
Since his election to office, Dr Dweik has been detained by the Israeli authorities twice, the first time being in 2007 following the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit while on active duty against the people of Gaza. He spent 43 months in detention charged with standing as a candidate on Hamas's parliamentary list. He was arrested again at the beginning of 2012 at the Jaba Checkpoint while on his way home to Hebron.
Israel continues to detain 20 deputies from the Palestinian Legislative Council, 17 of who ran as candidates on the Change and Reform list. It also holds 2 deputies from the Fatah Movement and 1 from the Popular Front.
MEMO Photographer: Ibtehal Mansour