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Israeli forces arrest two Palestinian politicians

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 10:41 AM EST, Fri January 20, 2012
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Hamas condemns the arrests and calls for a halt in talks
  • Parliamentary Speaker Aziz Dweik is arrested at a West Bank checkpoint
  • Council member Khaled Tafesh Dweib is picked up in Bethlehem
  • Both are suspected of involvement with terrorism

Jerusalem (CNN) -- Hamas condemned Friday the arrests of two Palestinian lawmakers and called for a halt to recent peace talks.

It also demanded the European Union call for the release of the Palestinians.

"There should be a stop to the ongoing negotiations," Hamas leader Ismail Haniya said at Friday prayers.

"The negotiations are a failure and absurd," he said. "It is impossible for any Palestinian to shake the hands of the occupier and the enemy while they are arresting the symbols of legitimacy."

Aziz Dweik, a top Palestinian politician, was picked up at a checkpoint Thursday night while on his way to the West Bank city of Hebron, reported WAFA, the official Palestinian Authority news agency.

The Hamas-supported speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council was handcuffed, blindfolded and detained for two hours before he was officially arrested and taken to an undisclosed location, the news agency said.

Israeli forces arrested Dweik in 2006 and charged him with belonging to an illegal organization. That arrest was part of crackdown on the Hamas party after the kidnapping of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Hours after Dweik was taken into custody, Israeli forces raided the Bethlehem house of Khaled Tafesh Dweib, a Palestine legislative council member from the Reform and Change party bloc of Hamas. Hamas officials said Dweib's computer and mobile phone were confiscated.

An Israeli military spokesman confirmed Dweib's arrest, saying that it was prompted by "suspicion of involvement with terrorists."

Dweib has been arrested by Israel three times since 2002 and twice held without formal charges for five years in a process known as administrative detention, according to Addameer, a Palestinian Prisoner support and human rights association.

An Israeli military spokesman told CNN that both Dweik and Dweib suspected of involvement with terrorists.

The fresh round of arrests brings the number of Palestine legislative council members imprisoned by Israel to 25 according to Addameer.

Haniya, the deposed Palestinian prime minister, said he was calling for an urgent session of the Legislative Council to discuss the arrests.

He called for a halt in ongoing discussions with Israeli representatives in Jordan. In those meetings, Palestinian negotiators had put forward proposals on security and borders but expectations have been low for the bid to get formal peace talks between the two sides started again.

CNN's Kevin Flower and Kareem Khadder contributed to this report.

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