Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 15 November 2019

Israel arrests Jerusalem governor to stop trip to Al Aqsa Mosque with Saudi football team

Adnan Gaith was arrested and questioned for hours about alleged Palestinian Authority activity in the occupied city

Israeli authorities arrested the governor of Jerusalem to prevent him from attending the Al Aqsa Mosque with the Saudi national football team ahead of its World Cup 2022 qualifying match with Palestine.

Israeli police questioned Gov Adnan Ghaith and the Fatah general-secretary for occupied Jerusalem, Shadi Mutour, for hours after detaining them late on Monday. The pair were then released on Tuesday.

Mr Ghaith's lawyer, Mohammad Mahmoud, said that the arrests were orchestrated to prevent the two officials from going with the Saudi delegation to the revered holy site in occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian Authority activities are banned in the city by Israel.

The Saudi national team went to the site, which hosts the Haram Al Sharif, to pray ahead of the 0-0 draw, which was held in the occupied West Bank town of Al Ram.

Israel occupied East Jerusalem, the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

The Palestinians seek that part of the city as the capital of any future sovereign Palestinian state.

The site is the third-holiest in Islam after Mecca and Medina. Jews also revere the site as the location of the Second Temple, but they are prevented from praying at the site. They refer to it as the Temple Mount. Far-right nationalist Jews regularly try to enter the compound to pray there.

Last year, Israeli police held Mr Ghaith as part of an investigation related to a land sale.

Police have been investigating Mr Ghaith over suspicions he was involved in the Palestinian Authority's arrest in October of America-Palestinian Issam Akel, who is accused of involvement in selling an east Jerusalem building to Jewish buyers.

Such sales are considered treasonous among Palestinians concerned with Israeli settlers buying property in annexed east Jerusalem.

Police also suspected Mr Ghaith of recruiting Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to the PA armed forces, which Israel says breaches the 1993 Oslo accords.

Updated: October 16, 2019 06:16 PM

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