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Routine Harasement of Palestinian Political Leaders by the “Only Democracy in the Middle East”


Today, Tuesday January 3rd 2006 the third, is the official opening day of the election campaign for the Palestinian Legislative Council. In spite of Israel’s reputation as the “only democracy in the middle east,” Palestinian political leaders still face harasement and arrest by the Israeli Police and Military.

At an election rally held by electoral candidate Hannan Ashwari in Occupied East Jerusalem today, Israeli Police demanded that a banner promoting “The Third Way ” be removed. Hannan Ashrawi refused to remove it, so the banner was confiscated by the police and Mrs. Ashrawi’s assistant was arrested. The rally was forcefully dispersed by the Israeli police, and four Jerusalem residents participating in the rally were arrested for waving Palestinian flags (referred to by Ynet as PLO flags), which is still an illegal offense in Occupied East Jerusalem.

On the night of the January 2nd, the Israeli police in occupied east Jerusalem arrested two residents of the city for displaying posters of electoral candidates. The two were released after being interrogated. The Israeli military also prevented Candidate Neda Taweer from Tul Karem from crossing a checkpoint on her way to the site of the annexation Wall at Dir Al Soon.

At noon today, January 3rd, Candidate Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, head of the Independent Palestine coalition list, was arrested in East Jerusalem whilst on a tour of the Old City as part of the his election campaign of the Palestinian Legislative Council. Dr. Barghouthi was approached by six undercover Israeli security agents, arrested, and taken to the Russian Compound jail. He was released at the Al Ram checkpoint three hours later.