`Israel arrests senior Hamas MP in West Bank`

Israeli forces arrested senior Hamas MP Mahmud al-Ramahi Tuesday night at his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah, sources in his Islamist movement said Wednesday.

Last Updated: Nov 10, 2010, 18:29 PM IST

Ramallah: Israeli forces arrested senior Hamas MP Mahmud al-Ramahi Tuesday night at
his home in the West Bank city of Ramallah, sources in his
Islamist movement said Wednesday.

Ramahi, who is secretary of the Palestinian Legislative
Council and the body`s third most senior member, was detained
at around 3.00 am (01:00 GMT), the sources in Ramallah said.

The Israeli Army said it was looking into the reports.

The latest arrest came as representatives from Hamas and
the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas started
a meeting in Damascus last night for reconciliation talks.

The long-time political rivals have been fiercely divided
since Hamas seized power in Gaza in a bloody rout of Abbas`
forces in June 2007, limiting his authority to the
Israeli-occupied West Bank.

Several previous attempts to reconcile the groups have
failed, with each side accusing the other of undermining trust
by persecuting political rivals in the territory under its
control.

Omar Abdul Razek, a senior Hamas official in the West
Bank, said today that Ramahi`s arrest appeared to be an
attempt by Israel to undermine the reconciliation talks.

"There is no justification for Ramahi`s arrest unless
Israel`s aim is to sabotage the reconciliation process," Abdul
Razek said.

Three weeks ago, another Hamas lawmaker, Hatem Qafaish,
was detained in the southern West Bank city of Hebron for what
the Israeli army termed "security questioning".

Israeli forces last arrested Ramahi in 2006 in a round-up
of dozens of Hamas lawmakers, ministers and other officials,
after Gaza militants seized Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Ramahi was released seven months ago and most of those
detained at the same time have also since been freed.

But about a dozen MPs remain in jail, including two from
the Fatah party of Western-backed Abbas and one from the
leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Bureau Report