PA Wants American Pressure on Israel to Allow Freed Hamas Lawmakers to Keep Blue ID Cards

The Palestinian Authority wants the United States to intervene and annul Israel's decision to confiscate Israeli ID cards from Hamas parliamentarians recently released from Israeli prison.

The four men, including Mohammed Abu Tir, have been told they have a month to leave their homes in East Jerusalem and move to the West Bank.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas brought the subject up with U.S. special envoy George Mitchell, while chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat formally asked the U.S. administration to have the decision canceled.

Mahmoud Abbas, George Mitchell
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The Palestinians said that otherwise there would be a crisis in the proximity talks, but did not give details.

A bargaining chip

Another Hamas official is set to be released from Israeli prison today. Sheikh Naef Rajoub, brother of Fatah strongman Jibril Rajoub, was elected to the Palestinian parliament in January 2006 and arrested shortly after the capture of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit in June that year.

Although he was tried and sentenced to four years in prison, Naef Rajoub was seized mainly as a bargaining chip in Israel's bid to have Shalit released.

Over the weekend, senior Hamas officials spoke of a breakthrough in the reconciliation process between Hamas and Fatah, reporting that Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak had agreed to a document of reservations filed by Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh.

But yesterday Fatah stressed that Hamas should sign the Egyptian-proposed reconciliation deal first, and file reservations later.