Israel probes Palestinian Jerusalem governor over 'terrorism'

Israel is investigating the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem over suspected terrorism, in the first such allegation against the often-arrested leader, his lawyer said Monday.

Adnan Ghaith has been arrested by Israeli security forces more than 10 times over the past two years, but typically over the minor offence of engaging in “illegal” political activities in the disputed city.

He has generally been released within a day or two.

But Ghaith’s lawyer Mohammed Mahmoud told AFP that in addition to political offences the governor was being probed over “planning an act of terrorism,” and not expected to be released soon.

Under Israeli law, a broad range of offences fall under the terrorism umbrella, and the probe does not necessarily mean Ghaith is suspected of plotting an act of violence.

It was the first time Ghaith was the subject of a terrorism investigation and Israel’s powerful domestic security agency, the Shin Bet, was involved in the case, Mahmoud said.

The Shin Bet did not immediately respond to a query about the investigation.

Police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP that Ghaith had been arrested at his east Jerusalem home on Sunday.

“He is being questioned by security forces,” Rosenfeld said.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem in the 1967 Six-Day War and later annexed it in a move never recognised by the international community.

It considers the entire city its capital, while the Palestinians see the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.

Israel bans all Palestinian Authority activities in the city.

As a result, the PA has a minister for Jerusalem affairs and a Jerusalem governor located in Al-Ram, just on the other side of an Israeli wall that separates the city and the occupied West Bank.

Ghaith has repeatedly been arrested for allegedly carrying out PA activities in east Jerusalem, including for working to ensure Palestinians in the city had access to essential services in the battle against coronavirus.

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