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Israel arrests Palestinian officials suspected of abduction - lawyers

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JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel has arrested two officials from the Palestinian Authority over suspicions they helped abduct a Palestinian resident of Jerusalem, their lawyers said on Sunday.

The two men taken into custody by Israel were Adnan Gheith, who holds the largely ceremonial post of Palestinian-appointed governor of Jerusalem, and Jihad Al-Faqeeh, the head of Palestinian intelligence in the city.

They are suspected of having assisted in abducting a resident of Jerusalem two weeks ago, who has since been held by the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank, their lawyers said. Both men deny the charges, they said.

Israeli police said only that the two have been remanded until Tuesday.

The Palestinian Authority condemned what it said was an “abduction” of the two Palestinian officials, but it did not comment on the specifics of the charges.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat called in a statement for the release of the two officials.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem after its capture in the 1967 war and regards the entire city as its capital. Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of a future state.

According to a report on Israel’s Reshet 13 television, the Palestinian resident of Jerusalem abducted two weeks ago has both an Israeli identity card and U.S. citizenship.

He was wanted by the Palestinian Authority, the report said, for helping sell property in Jerusalem’s old city to Jewish buyers.

Asked about the report, a U.S. embassy spokesperson said: “We are aware of reports that a U.S. citizen has been detained by the Palestinian Authority. When a U.S. citizen is incarcerated or detained overseas, the Department of State works to provide all appropriate consular assistance.”

The spokesperson declined to elaborate, citing privacy issues.

(Reporting by Dan Williams, Nidal al-Mughrabi, Ali Sawafta and Ari Rabinovitch; Editing by Adrian Croft)

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