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Israel police detain Hamas cabinet member in Jerusalem

[JURIST] Khaled Abu Arafa, the minister of Jerusalem affairs in the new Hamas-led Palestinian government [cabinet listing], was detained Thursday by Israeli police as he attempted to meet his predecessor, Ziad Abu Zayyad, for administrative purposes. Reports indicate Abu Arafa may have been taken into custody for attempting to open an office in eastern Jerusalem, which under current peace accords is not allowed until a final settlement is reached about the disputed city. The arrest, reported by a photographer traveling with Abu Arafa, has been confirmed by Palestinian and Israeli officials. Abu Arafa was detained for five hours [BBC report] and then released.

Hamas [ICT backgrounder] is widely seen by the international community as a terrorist organization but, in a surprise victory [JURIST report] in January elections, won the majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council [official website]. The new cabinet was sworn into office [BBC report] last week. Abu Arafa's arrest comes less than a month after Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz [official profile] said that Israel would resume targeted assassinations [JURIST report] of Hamas members, including high-level members of Palestinian government, if the organization resumed attacks on Israel. Israel's targeted assassination of Hamas spiritual founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin in 2004 was widely criticized as contrary to international law [JURIST report]. AP has more. Haaretz has local coverage.

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