Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Arrests on the Sidelines of War | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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The wife of Aziz Dweik, head of the Palestinian Legislative Council, described the night her husband was arrested, “I heard someone repeatedly knocking on the door in an annoying voice. “ When she opened the door, she was stunned to find the Israeli army. Like so many others, she must have thought that the Israeli military was caught up in the war in Lebanon and focused on apprehending its armed Palestinian militants. Like so many others, she would have never imagined that a parliamentary speaker would be arrested.

In the fog of war, as all eyes are firmly focused on the frontlines , many crimes are committed without anyone noticing. This is why the Israeli army arrested the Palestinian speaker and jailed him, in a move that can only be interpreted as an exploitation of the war in order to carry out operations that it wouldn’t have been able to achieve before for fear of a global outcry.

The imprisonment of Dweik and 60 Palestinian parliamentarians and cabinet members reflects Israel’s erratic actions. Dweik’s detention will not release the kidnapped soldier and will not improve the likelihood of a prisoner exchange. Rather, it justifies the Palestinians who captured the soldier and proves that Israel doesn’t take into consideration parliamentary immunity. If Israel doesn’t respect the rules and agreement, then it is only natural that the Palestinians are not held accountable for breaching them.

How can Israel justify the arrest of the parliamentary speaker when he is not to blame for developments on the ground? He isn’t a field commander nor does he hold any executive powers. In fact, Dweik represents the conscience of the majority of Palestinians who voted for him.

The latest arrests might have been carried out to please an angry Israeli public or to drive Hamas into a losing confrontation or even to destroy the remains of the Palestinian authority. If Israel wants to demolish the Palestinian regime over the heads of its people, it won’t be bale to find anyone to negotiate with or grant responsibility to. If the Palestinian authority falls amid the ongoing chaos, it won’t be easy to rebuild it.

Jailing the Palestinian government is an extraordinary action which has, in the past, only taken place during coups. Is it an elimination of Hamas’ authority? Or a rejection of the choice of the Palestinian people? This is a bizarre state of affairs as, in the past; the confrontation had clear and evident rules.