by Richard Burden MP
Israel`s seizure yesterday of elected Palestinian representatives and government ministers is illegal and counterproductive. Along with four parliamentary colleagues I travelled to the West Bank in January on a visit organised by the charity Forward Thinking to help promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians. During the visit we met the Palestinian education minister Nasser al-Shaer. What he wanted to talk to us about was not how to go to war with Israel, but how to promote a durable peace between Israelis and Palestinians (Comment, May 23). Mr Shaer has now just been arrested in Nablus. By seizing such people, Israel is only making matters worse.
This is not the first time Israel has taken such measures. They abducted many elected Palestinian representatives last year and many of them remain in prison. They also arrested Mr Shaer last year but had to release him after they discovered he was not a member of Hamas. What they are doing is illegal and MPs here have raised the issue with the Inter-Parliamentary Union, which upholds the rights of elected parliamentarians to do their jobs free from persecution.
Internationally, there has rightly been condemnation of the taking of hostages by militant Palestinian groups. The news of these abductions in the West Bank suggests that Israel is in the business of taking hostages of its own.
Richard Burden MP
Chair, Britain-Palestine all-party parliamentary group