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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 18 December 2018

Israel releases Palestinian Jerusalem governor to house arrest

Adnan Gheith, who was arrested on November 25, will be confined to his home until Tuesday

Adnan Gheith (C), Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, is brought handcuffed to a remand hearing at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem on November 25, 2018. AFP
Adnan Gheith (C), Palestinian governor of Jerusalem, is brought handcuffed to a remand hearing at the Magistrate's Court in Jerusalem on November 25, 2018. AFP

An Israeli court on Sunday released the Palestinian governor of Jerusalem from detention to house arrest for three days as part of an investigation related to a land sale.

Adnan Gheith, who was arrested on November 25, will be confined to his home until Tuesday, Jerusalem magistrate court justice Chavi Toker ruled.

Police have been investigating Mr Gheith 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 suspect Mr Gheith of recruiting Palestinian residents of Jerusalem to the PA armed forces, which Israel says breaches the 1993 Oslo accords.

Palestinian officials have condemned his arrest and claim it is intended to put pressure on the Palestinian leadership over Mr Akel's case.

Israelis, as well as US ambassador David Friedman, have called for Mr Akel's release.

Mr Geith's lawyer, Rami Othman, said the court's decision to release his client to house arrest proved the case was not serious.

"The mountain gave birth to a mouse," Mr Othman said. "They want to harass him," he said following Sunday's hearing.

He said they did not want him to remain Jerusalem governor. "They don't like the position."

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Mr Gheith had been arrested for several days in October and was also taken for questioning a number of times in recent weeks, with his office raided on November 4.

Israel meanwhile has halted security co-ordination with the PA in the Jerusalem area, Maj Gen Adnan Al Dumeiri, spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, said.

Israel's public broadcaster Kan said that ending the co-ordination was a means in putting pressure on the Palestinians to release Mr Akel from detention.

Security officials in Israel would not comment on the issue.

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.

PA activities are barred from Jerusalem by Israel.

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 Israel's separation wall from the city in the occupied West Bank.