Dr. Erekat Condemns Abduction of PLC Speaker

Press Releases
August 06, 2006


Dr. Saeb Erekat, Chief Palestinian Negotiator, today condemned Israel’s abduction of Dr. Aziz Dweik, the Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, which occurred last night.

“While the international media remains transfixed by Israel’s devastating attacks on Lebanon, the Israeli military is escalating a forgotten war against the occupied Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank,” said Dr. Erekat. “The continued abduction of our ministers and parliamentarians is only the latest Israeli attack on Palestinian aspirations to live in a free, democratic and independent Palestinian state alongside Israel.”

Dr. Dweik’s capture brings the total number of Palestinian parliamentarians and ministers currently held in Israeli captivity to 40, of which 10 were imprisoned prior to June 29, 2006. Three ministers, Fakhri Turkman (Minister for Social Affairs), Samir Abu Eisheh (Minister of Planning) and Wasfi Qabha (Minister for Prisoners Affairs) and one member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, Dr. Hassan Khreisheh, were imprisoned on or after June 29, 2006 and subsequently released. In total, Israel holds some 9,400 Palestinian political prisoners, including 120 women and 425 children.

Since Israel’s military offensive “Summer Rains” began on June 27, 2006, Israel has killed nearly 200 Palestinians, wounded 676 others, attacked several Palestinian ministries, destroyed civil infrastructure throughout the occupied Gaza Strip and caused the displacement of over 2,500 of its residents. Some 70 percent of Gaza’s 1.4 million Palestinians are already refugees from areas inside Israel.

Dr. Erekat said Israel’s abduction of Palestinian officials “mirrors Israel’s attempts to hold the peace process hostage.” Dr. Erekat also drew parallels between Israel’s 2002 offensive in Jenin following the launch of the Arab Peace Initiative and Israel’s current attacks following the publication of the National Conciliation Document which offers united Palestinian support for a two-state solution to the conflict. “Today, as in 2002, Israel is responding to unprecedented gestures of peace with unfathomable levels of violence,” he said.

Dr. Erekat ended his comments by appealing for international mediation in the current crisis. “The Palestinian-Israeli conflict is central to the current regional crisis. The delusion that there is a military solution to this political conflict is enflaming the entire Middle East. Only a concerted effort by the international community to re-engage in diplomacy and conflict resolution will douse these flames.”

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