Israel briefly detains Palestinian cartographer, confiscates computers and files, and closes his office for six months.
By Joseph Federman / AP and The Washington Post
March 14, 2017
Tufagji is considered the foremost Palestinian expert on Israeli settlement activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, areas claimed by the Palestinians for a future state. . . . More than 200,000 Israelis now live in East Jerusalem, along with a similar number of Palestinians. Israel considers its developments to be neighborhoods of its capital, but the Palestinians and most of the international community label them as illegal settlements.
Israeli police on Tuesday burst into the offices of a Palestinian cartographer who tracks Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and detained him for several hours, accusing him of illegally working for the Palestinian Authority.
It was believed to be the first arrest of its kind since Israel banned the Palestinian Authority from carrying out official business in East Jerusalem in 2001. It also illustrated the deep sensitivities over East Jerusalem, an area with deep religious and strategic significance claimed by both Israel and the Palestinians.
Khalil Tufagji, a former Palestinian negotiator, said police entered his office early Tuesday and confiscated computers and files before taking him away. He was released after several hours. Tufagji denied working for the Palestinian Authority.
Tuesday’s incident reflected the deep sensitivities on both sides over the status of East Jerusalem, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast War and annexed.
Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital. The Palestinians claim East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state. The conflicting claims lie at the core of the conflict.
Since 1967, Israel has ringed East Jerusalem with more than half a dozen housing developments meant to cement its control. In addition, settler groups have set up small enclaves in the heart of Palestinian neighborhoods — an effort the Palestinians say is meant to erode their presence in the city.