JERUSALEM, Israel – The Palestinian Authority has arrested at least six Palestinians who said they favor Israel’s annexation of parts of the West Bank, AFP reported Tuesday.
The arrests came after Israeli television aired a report in June featuring undercover interviews with Palestinians who contradicted the PA and said they do not oppose Israel’s annexation plans. Their voices were distorted and their faces were blurred to protect their identities.
Many of those interviewed criticized the PA as a “failed” and “corrupt” government and expressed their desire to get Israeli citizenship if Israel extends sovereignty to up to 30 percent of the West Bank – biblical Judea and Samaria.
"I want an Israeli identity card," one Palestinian is heard saying. Another said he does not view “Israelis as enemies – their government is the enemy.” Another said he “chose” Israel and was not afraid to speak out.
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Tzvi Yehezkeli, the Israeli journalist who produced the report, told AFP that some of the Palestinians featured in the video were arrested by security forces according to their families.
"I was surprised to see that even though I've blurred the faces of all the people I filmed and distorted their voices, the Authority has reached and arrested (some) of them, it's just amazing," he said.
A relative of one of the men arrested said he had been detained by Palestinian police for several weeks and would appear before the court soon.
He said that despite the “fear” of being arrested, he hopes “Israel will give us citizenship.”
The Palestinian Authority denies accusations of arresting dissenting citizens.
“We have not arrested anyone in connection with this case,” Palestinian interior ministry spokesman Ghassan Nimr told AFP.
Israel missed a July 1st deadline to begin annexation, a move supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. No announcement has been made on annexation, but Israel says it is negotiating with the Trump administration on how to move forward.
Netanyahu has repeatedly said the Palestinians who will be subjected to Israeli law after annexation will not be granted Israeli citizenship.
Some 88% of Palestinians oppose Netanyahu’s annexation plans and view it as the end of a future Palestinian state. A slight majority of 52% of Palestinians said they favor an armed struggle, while 42% oppose violence, according to a survey by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research.