Israel Releases Palestinian Jerusalem Governor Arrested for Working With PA Security Forces

The police also released 32 East Jerusalemites arrested for similar charges. Residents say the new governor is targeted because he's influential

Adnan Ghaith poses for a photograph in his office at the Palestinian Ministry of Jerusalem affairs' headquarters in the occupied West Bank town of al-Ram, near Jerusalem, on November 4, 2018.
Ahmad Gharabli / AFP

Israel Police released Adnan Ghaith, the Palestinian Authority’s governor of Jerusalem, alongside all 32 Palestinian activists who were arrested November 24 on suspicion of cooperating with the Palestinian Authority’s security services in violation of the Oslo Accords.

Ghaith, a resident of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, was appointed governor in September and has been arrested by the Jerusalem police a number of times since.

Ghaith has been arrested on suspicion of, among other things, involvement in the arrest of Issam Akel, an East Jerusalem resident and an American citizen who the PA suspects of selling a house to Jews. Every time he was arrested, Ghaith was eventually released by the court.

In early November, the Shin Bet security service and the Border Police conducted a comprehensive search of the Palestinian governorship’s office in A-Ram, just north of Jerusalem. One week later, the head of Home Front Command issued an order forbidding Ghaith from leaving Jerusalem and entering the West Bank.

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In a statement the police released after the arrests it took pride in its activity against the PA in the city: "After an investigation, 32 suspects were arrested. They are East Jerusalem residents holding blue [Israeli] ID cards who are active in Palestinian security services and some even receive allowances from the Israeli state." Police said that during the operation they also seized thousands of shekels, certificates, uniforms, ammunition and military equipment.

The police mentioned the arrests were in accordance with Section 7 of the 1993 Oslo Accords Law, which states that it is forbidden to enlist in an armed force of the PA. Only one person, also a resident of East Jerusalem, has ever been convicted of violating this law.

Recently, left-wing activist Ezra Nawi was indicted based on the same law for allegedly passing on information to the Palestinian security services on Palestinians who sold land to Jews.

All suspects were released a week after the arrest and no charges were filed. Ghaith was released to a three-day home arrest under a 500-shekel ($130) bail.

Some in East Jerusalem say that Ghaith's appointment, replacing the previous PA governor Adnan Husseini, is the reason the police has started working against the PA in East Jerusalem.

Ghaith has significantly more influence in the city than other PA officials, and police is reportedly seeking to weaken him. For now, residents say, the arrests and search warrants only serve to strengthen Ghaith's influence in the street and on social media.

Rami Othman, the lawyer representing Ghaith, said the police operation "failed" as it had "attempted to fail the governor's appointment, even though this position has been around since 1995 and no governor had ever been arrested or investigated."

The Israel police said that the court's decision to extend the suspects arrest attests to the legality of the decision. The police added that the suspects were detained for the purposes of the investigation and according to law. "The Israel police will continue to conduct the investigation, to work according to law and to prevent terrorism."