The Palestinian Ministry of Prisoners' and Detainees' Affairs in Gaza has revealed that the Israeli authorities are continuing to detain 20 elected members of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Seventeen of the MPs are being held under so-called Administrative Detention without charge or any other legitimate reason.
The ministry's media director Riad Al Ashqar said that the number of detained MPs fell to 20 after the release of Hassan Youssef. The others still in Israeli detention include 17 representing the Change and Reform Bloc, 2 are from Fatah and 1 is from the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. All ten of Hebron's MPs are in Israeli prisons, the latest of whom to be detained being Mohamed Motlek Abu Jeheisha.
According to Mr Al Ashqar, most of the parliamentarians are being detained for the second time in two years. The Israelis, he said, had to use the Administrative Detention process because they have no charges to file against them. The MPs, he added, are in detention solely to keep them out of the political arena, and when one period of detention lapse, it is renewed immediately.
The ministry considers the detentions to be "kidnapping" and a "political crime, a blow to democracy", as well as a violation of basic international conventions and charters. The detention of their politicians also constitutes aggression against legitimate Palestinian institutions and symbols, and a violation of political immunity, said Mr Al Ashqar, who noted that the treaties signed by the Israelis allow for the establishment of an elected Palestinian parliament, with parliamentary immunity granted for its members. "As usual," he said, "the Zionist state doesn't respect its legal commitments and the treaties to which it is a signatory."
Since 2006, Israel has kidnapped more than two-thirds of the Palestinian Legislative Council's members and issued harsh sentences against them; most served their sentences and were released, before being kidnapped again.