JERUSALEM (JTA) — The mayor of the West Bank city of Efrat called on the Palestinian Authority to release four local Palestinians who were arrested after they visited his sukkah.
Oded Revivi, who is also the chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Council settlement body, issued a statement on Sunday, four days after the men joined several dozen other Palestinians living near Efrat in visiting the sukkah along with about 30 Jewish Israelis during the harvest holiday as part of a peace event. The men were arrested the following day and reportedly continue to be held in jail.
“I call upon the Palestinian Authority to immediately release my Sukkot guests. It is absurd that having coffee with Jews is considered a crime by the Palestinian Authority. Initiatives that seek to foster cooperation and peace between people should be encouraged, not silenced. It’s time the Palestinian Authority asks itself whether it would prefer to fan the flames of conflict instead of working to bring people together”, Revivi said in the statement.
Khaled Tafish, a parliamentarian in the Palestinian Legislative Council, said on Palestinian television, according to the Jerusalem Post, “If they knew that there would be a punishment and that they will be pursued for doing that, then the incident would not have happened.”
Palestinian Authority Deputy Governor of Bethlehem Muhammad Taha said the incident was under investigation and the men will be held accountable under Palestinian law, according to The Jerusalem Post. He also said Palestinians “condemn” the visit and that “visiting settlers is completely unacceptable.”