Israel Releases Palestinian Legislator and Ex-minister From Detention

Totah, a member of the legislative council, and Abu Arafa, former Hamas Jerusalem-affairs minister, were in custody for three months.

Palestinian protesters showing solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners
Palestinian protesters showing solidarity with hunger-striking prisoners, June 12, 2014. Reuters

Israel on Tuesday released a member of the Palestinian Authority's legislature and a former PA minister from administrative detention after three months, the Palestinian news agency Ma'an reported.

The report named the two released prisoners as Ahmed Totah, who represents Jerusalem in the Palestinian Legislative Council, and Khaled Abu Arafa, who had been minister for Jerusalem affairs within the government that Hamas formed after it won the 2006 elections.

Quoting the Palestinian prisoners-rights group Addameer (Arabic for "conscience"), Ma'an said that Israel still holds nearly three dozen Palestinian legislators, many of whom were arrested in the past month.

Administrative detention involves holding a person in custody based on an administrative order rather than a judicial determination, according to B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories.

The group says that while the procedure is allowable under international law in exceptional cases, Israel violates the rules of the process. Israel denies Palestinian detainees the ability to mount a proper defense and can hold them indefinitely, B'Tselem's website says.