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Israeli parliamentarians denounce the arrest of Raed Salah

Palestinian members of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) have denounced the arrest and threatened deportation of Sheikh Raed Salah, leader of the Islamic Movement in Israel, by UK Border Agency officers in London.

Balad Party MK Haneen Zoabi condemned the British government, saying: "Instead of the British authorities supporting the Palestinians' just struggle for democracy, freedom and political action, it looks like they support the Israeli policies of political persecution against Arabs in Israel." The prime source behind the arrest, she alleged, is pressure from the Israeli government and the pro-Israel lobby in Britain.


Calling for Salah's immediate release, Zoabi continued: "I suggest that the British have to be smarter in their policy relating to the rights of Palestinians in Israel. We, the Arab leadership, need to act more aggressively in the international area, so that the world understands the racist and discriminatory policies and political persecution carried out by the Israeli government against us."

MK Ahmed Tibi called the arrest "baffling and undemocratic behaviour by the British authorities".

The northern branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel, of which Raed Salah is the head, released a statement on the incident: "Ever since Sheikh Salah received the invitation to go to Britain the pro-Israel lobby has gone crazy and done everything in its power to prevent the visit; the lobbyists are pushing for the Zionist narrative to be the only narrative." Addressing the pro-Israel lobby directly, the Islamic Movement added, "We will protect our rights and will bring the voice of truth to the world, especially as it relates to the Palestinian people. We won't be affected by this politically-motivated arrest."

According to Zoabi's Balad Party colleague, Jamal Zahalka MK, Sheikh Raed is a political and religious figure, and there can be no justification for the arrest. "Instead of the British government supporting the rights of Arab citizens in Israel, it is cooperating in hurting them." In fact, continued Zahalka, "Britain is thus collaborating with Israeli oppression. The arrest is a blow to the Arab public in Israel, which regards Sheikh Raed Salah as one of its leaders."

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