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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Le vice-premier ministre palestinien enlevé par Tsahal

by Anne Roy

The Palestinian Vice Prime Minister Kidnapped by the Tsahal

Translated Friday 25 August 2006, by Henry Crapo

Ramallah: Another senior elected official of the Palestinian Authority is carried off by the Israeli army

Nasser Shaer had escaped the waves of kidnappings of Palestinian elected officials and officers at the end of June. He lived for two months without seeing anyone, isolated at home with his wife and children. A vain precaution. The vice prime minister and minister of education, Nasser Shaer, was arrested at his home in Ramallah by the Israeli army during the night of Friday to Saturday. This new kidnapping, which the spokesman for the Israeli army stated is a part of the anti-terrorist war, follows sixty other arrests of officials of the Islamist party, since the days following the kidnapping of Israeli corporal Gilad Shalit last 25 June. Tsahal has thus carried off 8 ministers of government, 26 deputies, some of whom have since been liberated, and on 5 August, Aziz Dowek, the president of the Parliament.

This new blow to the elected authorities of the Palestinian people risks complicating again a bit more the negociations between the Fatah and Hamas, who are struggling to agree on the creation of a government of national unity. In this perspective, Ishmail Haniyeh had actually posed on Friday, as precondition to an agreement with Fatah, the liberation by Israel of all the deputies and ministers of Hamas currently held in Israeli prisons.

"This arrest saps the efforts deployed to form a government of national union according to the plan of president Mahmoud Abbas", declared the Palestinian negotiator Saëb Erakat, who has called for Nasser Shaer’s "immediate liberation, as well as the liberation of the president of Parliament". The Palestinian government spokesman, Ghazi Hamad, struck out against "the continuation of this criminal sit-com carried on by the occupying power", and analyzes the arrests as "manifestations of the objective of Israel", which he says "is none other than the disappearance of a government or of the Palestinian Authority, or their weakening." Egypt, strongly involved in the liberation of Israeli corporal Shalit, has condemned this new capture, evoking, in the voice of their minister of foreign affairs, Ahmed Aboul Gheit, "the attempts by Israel to impose its will on the Palestinian people". In a communiqué from the Quai d’Orsay, France also "reiterates its condemnation of arrests of members of the Palestinian Authority", recalling that for France "only a political process based on dialogue can put an end to the Israel-Palestine conflict".

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