Palestinian MPs and Cabinet members STILL in Israeli jails after illegal abduction

Israel has many thousands of Palestinian political prisoners locked up in their jails. Men, women, even children are deprived of their freedom and forced to live in a cage precisely because of their love of justice and freedom. Among these prisoners are 21 Palestinian Members of Parliament (Palestinian Legislative Council) and 8 Cabinet Ministers. Shocking but true, these people are still locked away in prison cells three years after their night-time abduction as if they were criminals! In what country would this be condoned or permitted? The international community exhibits a deafening silence, but let’s not forget these men and women who lost their liberty because their people voted them into office against the desires of Israel. We have to keep these prisoners in the public eye, let them know they are not abandoned and that their freedom will come. Let’s sign the endorsement letter of the campaign and especially, add their plight to our campaigning work so that the world is aware that Israel abducts Parliament members of another government, jails them and keeps the world silent about it.

From the International Campaign for Releasing Abducted Members of Parliament (Free PLC) site:

Three years have passed since PLC members were abducted by Israeli occupation forces before the eyes and the hearing of the world in a dangerous precedent as a political crime and in atrocious violation of the principles of international law and Geneva Fourth Convention, besides trespassing the rules of democracy and principles of respecting the people’s wills.

Israeli occupation insists on violating the dignity of democracy and even trying it through its persistence in abducting the MPs and prosecuting them and going too far in extending their unlawful imprisonment after its end with the aim of keeping them behind the prison bars during all the parliamentary term.
Out of our care for peace among people, our respect for their will to choose their representatives and for consolidating the rules of the free democratic and parliament action, our decisive rejection of the abducting and trying of MPs which has been a trial of democracy and abducing of its consequences, our awareness of the fact that the place of those abducted MPs in not jail but their parliamentary seats for which the Palestinian people have chosen them through the ballot boxes, we have decided to conduct the International campaign for freeing the abducted MPs in continuation of efforts exerted in defense of this cause and to unite the abilities of the parliamentarians and freemen of the world so as to ensure the dawn of freedom for the abducted MPs.

In this campaign we are keen on sending the following telegrams:

First: our decisive rejection of the Israeli piracy and harsh intervention in the internal Palestinian affairs and the incessant attempts to change the Palestinian political map through the abducting of MPs and blowing up the democratic choice.

Second: the necessity of the World Community’s movement to protect human values and democratic morals and confront Israeli violation of International conventions and agreements.

Third: inviting all parliamentarians and free personalities of the world to join the international campaign for freeing the abducted MPs and bear their responsibility in defending democracy and to form a world public opinion pressing for releasing the PLC members and incriminating this serious Israeli policy.

Document of liberty

The International campaign for freeing kidnapped members of parliament

“A political crime and Fettered Democracy”

Out of our desire to see peace prevailing all over the world, our keenness to have mutual respect among all the peoples of the Earth and our observance of the results of the democratic process and the peaceful exchange of authority, we declare our rejection of kidnapping of the elected Palestinian members of parliament which has been a dangerous precedent and an atrocious violation of international laws and conventions.

We warn that this silence towards such crime means directing a deathblow to democracy, social peace and world peace, it means a threat to stability in the world and empowering the law of the jungle which trespasses civilized development and modern human regulations.

We hereby call on the world community the human rights organizations and all those who are able to practice pressure an the Israeli occupation to act seriously and effectively for the prompt release of the symbols of Palestinian legitimacy, the members of parliament.

And jointly let us act for the freeing of Palestinian members of parliament kidnapped in the prison of Israeli occupation. (in English and Arabic)


See also: for background

Jerusalem, 29 June 2006: The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH) is deeply alarmed at the escalating situation in the occupied Palestinian territories following Israel’s abduction of 21 Palestinian members of parliament (PLC members) and 8 cabinet ministers from the West Bank late last night and during the early hours of this morning.

In a wide-scale assault against various Palestinian cities and towns in the occupied West Bank, the Israeli army launched a wave of abductions against what it called “members of a terrorist organization,” which included senior political figures from the democratically-elected Hamas government and PLC members, as well as members of other Palestinian political groups.

The arrested ministers are: Mohammed al-Barghouthi – Minister of Labor, Omar Abdul Razeq – Minister of Finance, Samir Abu Eisheh – Minister of Planning, Wasfi Kabaha – Minister for Prisoners Affairs, Nayef Rjoub – Minister of Waqf and Religious Affairs, Khaled Abu Arafeh – Minister for Jerusalem Affairs, Issa al-Ja’bari – Minister of Local Government.

The arrested members of parliament include: Ahmad Attoun – PLC member (Jerusalem), Mohammed Abu Teir – PLC member (Jerusalem), Wael al-Husseini – PLC member (Jerusalem), Anwar Zboun – PLC member (Bethlehem), Mahmoud al-Khatib – PLC member (Bethlehem), Riyadh Raddad – PLC member (Tulkarem)

The Israeli army also arrested the mayor of the northern West Bank city of Qalqilya, Wajih Qawwas, and his deputy Hashem al-Masri.

In addition to the above, Israeli military forces abducted 30 other Palestinian activists throughout the West Bank.

The Israeli government has downplayed claims that it carried out the wave of abductions in an attempt to bargain the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier kidnapped by Palestinian resistance fighters in the Gaza Strip last Sunday. Shalit was taken hostage during a military operation against Israel’s occupation and in response to the wave of terrorist attacks by the Israeli army against the Gaza Strip last month, which claimed the lives of at least 20 Palestinian civilians, including 7 members of the same family.

MIFTAH equally expresses grave concern regarding Israel’s premeditated military offensive campaign against Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip, which began early Wednesday with a wave of air and ground attacks, so far resulting in the complete destruction of basic infrastructure in the Strip, including the cut off of electricity from the southern Gaza districts.

There are serious fears among the civilian Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip that Israel’s aggression in the coming days will aim to inflict unprecedented degrees of pain and destruction, particularly in the Rafah district. Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has condemned Israel’s military offensive and called it “collective punishment.”

MIFTAH calls on the international community to take immediate steps in order to prevent a serious humanitarian crisis in the already impoverished and shattered Gaza Strip, and urges governmental and non-governmental organizations to intervene to bring an end to Israel’s punitive measures against the civilian population of the occupied Palestinian territories, particularly in the Gaza Strip.

MIFTAH also calls for the immediate release of all Palestinian cabinet ministers, PLC members, and activists, and calls upon the international community to hold Israel accountable for its violation of their immunity as elected members of the Palestinian political leadership.

The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy, MIFTAH, is a non-governmental, non-partisan Jerusalem-based institution dedicated to fostering democracy and good governance within Palestinian society through promoting public accountability, transparency, the free flow of information and ideas and the challenging of stereotyping at home and abroad.