The Israeli government has deported Ahmad Attoun, a Palestinian/Hamas MP from Jerusalem to the Palestinian Authority-controlled city of Ramallah in the West Bank.
According to Reuters, Attoun, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, had already spent more than two months in an Israeli jail for illegally living in Jerusalem. Reportedly, his permit to reside in the city was revoked five years ago.
This is one of the hardest moments of my life, Attoun told reporters as he crossed the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem.
We are the original residents of this country and the occupation [Israel] is the one that should leave the country, not us.”
Attoun’s attorney Fadi Qawasmeh told Agence France Presse (AFP): Since [my client] has already spent 70 days in jail, [the Israeli court]… decided to deport him to the West Bank.”
Attoun was originally arrested in September, Reuters noted. He, along with two other Hamas officials, were being sheltered by the International Red Cross (IRC) for more than one year within Jerusalem proper.
Indeed, during his speech to the United Nations at about the same time Mahmous Abbas, the Palestinian President referred to the plight of the Hamas members and referred to the situation as a form of “ethnic cleansing.”
BBC reported that the two other men -- former Palestinian Minister for Jerusalem Affairs Khaled Abu Arafah and MP Mohammed Totah – remain in the IRC compound in East Jerusalem.
Meanwhile, IRC has urged Israel to revoke the order to expel Attoun.
AFP noted that another Hamas MP Mohammad Abu Tei was deported from Jerusalem exactly one year ago.
According to AFP, more than 270,000 Palestinians currently live in East Jerusalem -- they need permits issued by Israel in order to move between the West Bank and Israel.
The expulsion of Palestinian MPs from Jerusalem raises fears among Palestinians of their own immediate future in the city.
Palestinians claim the eastern half of Jerusalem as their own, though Israel has controlled the fabled city since the 1967 Six-Day War and regards it as its “indivisible” capital.
The Palestinian militant organization Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and controls the Gaza Strip, is considered a terrorist organization by many western countries, as well as Israel.