19:02 , 03.01.07


Appeal Rejected
Photo: AFP Members of PA Legislative Council Photo: AFP
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Hamas lawmakers to remain in Israeli custody

Supreme Court rejects appeal of five senior Hamas lawmakers detained in Israel since their June arrest; Hamas lawmakers to remain in remand until end of legal proceedings, court decides
Aviram Zino

Five senior Hamas lawmakers detained in Israel will remain in prison after the Supreme Court of Justice rejected their appeal on Thursday.


The court ordered that they be held in remand until the end of legal proceedings.


The Hamas members were nabbed in an late-night arrest raid in June in response to Gilad Shalit’s kidnapping and continued attacks against Israel.


After their interrogation, the five were indicted in a military court on charges of membership in a terrorist organization and holding positions in a terrorist organization, among other offenses.


Ruling appealed

In September the Military Court at the Ofer camp ordered their release after deciding they did not pose a clear and present danger and the prosecution could not claim otherwise because Israel did not object to their participation in the Palestinian elections – which the state was authorized to do according to Israeli-PA agreements.


The ruling established that Israel’s decision not to oppose their candidacy set a standard implying that no criminal charges would be leveled against them for participating in the Palestinian elections. Thus, they were granted a judicial stay due to bureaucratic errors.


The state appealed the military court’s decision to the Appeals Court, which ruled in favor of the state and approved the Hamas lawmaker’s continued imprisonment.


“The State of Israel maintained from the beginning that it did not approve of Hamas’ participation in the Palestinian Authority elections, and even declared publicly to the whole world that Hamas is a terror organization,” the court decision said.


In their present appeal to the Supreme Court, the members of the Palestinian Legislative Council claimed that their arrests defied the sovereignty of the Palestinian Authority, and Israeli military courts do not have judicial authority in the matter.


Justice Edmund Levy rejected their appeal claiming that the proper forum to examine a judicial stay was not the Supreme Court but rather “in the court in which the criminal proceedings themselves were being held.”


Justices Elyakim Rubinstein and Devorah Berliner sustained Justice Levy’s stance and decided to reject the appeal.