Israel frees Palestinian minister

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Israeli police Sunday released from custody the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs after questioning him over claims he organised activities in the city in violation of Israeli rules, his lawyer said.

Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs Fadi al-Hadami had been arrested in his east Jerusalem home early on Sunday and taken in for questioning, with a police spokesperson saying he had been involved in unspecified “activities in Jerusalem.”

His lawyer Mohannad Jbara said the arrest was due to recent activities that have included accompanying Chile’s president during a visit to Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex.

Jbara said Hadami was released Sunday afternoon.

On Tuesday, Hadami was seen alongside Chilean President Sebastian Pinera on a tour of the holy site. This infuriated Israel, which said the tour constituted a violation of regulations and a breach of understandings reached with Santiago for the head of state’s visit.

The status of Al-Aqsa, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and located above the Western Wall, is one of the most sensitive issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

It is the holiest site in Judaism and the third-holiest for Muslims after Mecca and Medina, administered by the Muslim Waqf, but secured by Israeli police.

Chile later said Pinera’s visit was private, with Hadami’s presence not part of official protocol.

Hadami’s arrest also comes after days of violent unrest in Jerusalem.

Overnight Saturday, Israeli police “continued dealing with riots and disturbances in a number of neighbourhoods when stones were thrown at officers and fireworks fired at them,” police spokesperson Micky Rosenfeld said in a statement. Two officers were wounded and six suspects arrested, Rosenfeld said.

The continued unrest follows the shooting of a 20-year-old Palestinian in the east Jerusalem neighbourhood of Issawiya by Israeli police, after he had allegedly thrown fireworks at them.

The young man, identified as Mohammed Obeid, died of his wounds, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Israel occupied east Jerusalem and the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Israel sees all of Jerusalem as its undivided capital, while the Palestinians see east Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.