JERUSALEM

Israeli police rounded up seven Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem on Tuesday, according to local residents.

The detainees include Maj.-Gen. Bilal Al-Natsheh, Secretary-General of the National People’s Congress — a security body affiliated with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), his assistants Emad Awad and Emad al-Ashhab, businessman Mustafa Abu Zahra,

journalist Tamer Obaidat and activist Rania Hatem, residents said.

According to witnesses, Israeli forces searched the detainees’ homes and confiscated laptop computers.

The reason of the arrests remains unclear.

The Israeli police said in a statement that it had detained “seven suspects from Jerusalem residents for violating the law implementing the interim agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip,” referring to the Oslo I Accord signed between the PLO and Israel in 1993.

For its part, PLO’s Commission of Detainees Affairs condemned the arrests, saying it aims at “undermining the official Palestinian presence in Jerusalem”.

Last month, Israeli police detained Jerusalem Governor Adnan Ghaith from his home in Jerusalem.

Ghaith was arrested several times in recent months over working for the Palestinian Authority.

Jerusalem remains at the heart of the decades-long Mideast conflict, with Palestinians insisting that East Jerusalem — occupied by Israel since 1967 — should serve as the capital of a Palestinian state.

International law continues to view East Jerusalem, along with the entire West Bank, as “occupied territories” and considers all Jewish settlement construction there as illegal.

Writing by Mahmoud Barakat

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