Friday Jan 20, 201212:51 AM GMT
Palestinian parliament speaker arrested
Fri Jan 20, 2012 12:50AM
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Head of the Palestinian Legislative Council Aziz Dweik (file photo)
Israeli forces have arrested the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council at a military checkpoint in the West Bank.

Aziz Dweik was detained on Thursday in Jaba, between Ramallah and al-Quds (Jerusalem), as he was travelling to al-Khalil (Hebron) in the southern West Bank.

Witnesses said Israeli soldiers handcuffed and blindfolded Dweik before taking him to an unknown destination.

Palestinian officials have called for Dweik's immediate release.

Ahmed Bahar, first vice president of the Palestinian parliament, issued a statement denouncing "the detention of Mr Dweik, which aims to undermine reconciliation efforts (with Fatah) and disrupt legislative work in the West Bank."

Dweik, a professor of geography at Al-Najah University in the southern West Bank, was elected to represent the al-Khalil constituency and became speaker in the parliament's first session in February 2006.

According to rights groups, more than 20 members of the Palestinian Legislative Council are imprisoned in Israel -- many of them without charge or trial.

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