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Jericho prison seize part of Israeli election

15 March 2006

Jericho prison seize part of Israeli election lead-up

The siege of Jericho prison by Israel Defence Forces is a political move in the lead-up to the current Israeli election says Middle Eastern political expert Dr Nigel Parsons. He says the siege of the Palestinian Authority (PA)prison and the abduction of Palestinian political prisoners achieves two ends for Ehud Olmert - acting Prime Minister and Ariel Sharon's political heir-designate.

"First, it sends a clear message to the new Hamas administration about to take charge of the PA that Israel retains the arbitrary power to act as it pleases in the occupied territories. Second, it allows Olmert to appear tough on security and boost his poll ratings as election day approaches."

Dr Parsons says high-profile Palestinian prisoners were guarded by United States and British personnel in an arrangement to "expedite their imprisonment whilst precluding a trial" in Israel. "The decision by US and British prison guards to abandon their posts and their charges is a breach of commitments signed with the PA. It sends a clear message of bad faith to the Palestinian people, and will have lasting negative consequences for the operations of both countries in the West Bank and Gaza."

A lecturer in the School of History, Philosophy and Politics, Dr Parsons recently published The Politics of the Palestinian Authority: From Oslo to al-Aqsa. He conducted more than a decade's extensive research whilst based at Bir Zeit University in Ramallah, Palestine, and at the American University in Cairo, Egypt. Dr Parsons conducted over 60 interviews with leading figures in the PLO and the PA, delegates to the negotiations with Israel, and the Palestinian political opposition.

ENDS

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