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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Balad MKs meet Hamas despite Border Police intervention

Members of a second Israeli-Arab Knesset faction, Balad, met today with Hamas members - this time outside of Jerusalem as a result of the residency restrictions imposed upon the Hamas members.

The meeting with Balad MK's MKs Jamal Zahalka and Wasil Taha was scheduled to take place in the offices of the Hamastan Minster for Jerusalem Affairs, but was relocated to a private home in the suburb of al-Azariyah when border troops were waiting for Mohammed Abu Tir, Ahmed Atun and Mohammed Totah of Hamas.

The PA's Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arfa hosted the Balad MKs in his office and waited with them for the Hamas officials.

According to Balad sources, the forces tried also to stop Abu Arfa from leaving the building and joining the MKs as they left for the relocated meeting. He eventually left in the car of MK Wasil Taha.

The sources said also that Border Policemen stood at the entrance to the building and prevented the three Palestinian parliament members from entering the building in East Jerusalem.

Police, however, denied this report and it seems that,
after spotting police, the Palestinian legislators chose not to arrive for fear of confrontations. The Arab MKs confronted the Border Policemen verbally.

MK Zahalka said earlier Thursday that the meeting would be a show of solidarity with Hamas legislators and a condemnation of the 'undemocratic' Israeli decision to strip three Hamas legislators living in East Jerusalem of their residency rights following the suicide bombing in Tel Aviv on Monday.

three MKs from the United Arab List-Ta'al held talks with the three Hamas officials at Abu Tir's home in East Jerusalem.

As a result of yesterday's meeting, UAL-Ta'al faction chairman MK Taleb al-Sana may lose his membership in the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Security Committee, Army Radio reported today.

Kadima MK Haim Ramon, the chairman of the Knesset Arrangements Committee, intends to agree to a demand by National Religous Party-National Union MK Effi Eitam to leave al-Sana out of the committee, the radio said.

However, Knesset officials say that the Arrangement Committee has already approved al-Sana's membership in the Foreign Affair and Defense Committee and there is no legal way to prevent him from participating in the committee's discussions, the radio said. It's not clear to me why this is so. A faction has to have seven Knesset members in order to be entitled to a seat on the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. UAL - Ta'al has four (MK Ahmed Tibi was too 'busy' to participate in yesterday's meeting).


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