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Sunday, 9 September, 2001, 13:36 GMT 14:36 UK
Palestinian minister held
East Jerusalem's old city
Jerusalem is central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict
Israeli police briefly arrested the Palestinian minister for Jerusalem affairs on Sunday.

They said that Zyad Abu Zyad had been detained after entering East Jerusalem illegally and later released at a roadblock outside the city limits.

Palestinian radio said Mr Zyad had been stopped on his way to his office in the city and taken off to Al-Maskubiyah Prison.

It accused Israel of "targeting Palestinian institutions and leaders" in Jerusalem.

Sources at the Israeli Public Security Ministry denied the arrest was the result of a specific warrant, and said it was part of a general policy of arresting Palestinians found in Israel without a permit.

Arrest unprecedented

Mr Zyad became minister for Jerusalem after the death of his predecessor, popular politician Faisal Husseini, who died in May while attending an anti-Israel conference in Kuwait.

Faisal Husseini
Mr Husseini was seen by some Israelis as a moderate

He has not been registered by the Israeli authorities as a Palestinian resident of East Jerusalem.

His detention marks the first arrest of a Palestinian minister since the establishment of the Palestinian Authority in 1994.

However, Israel shut down the Palestinians' Orient House headquarters in East Jerusalem last month in response to a suicide bombing in the city.

Mr Husseini had made Orient House the Palestinian HQ in the city and it was regarded as a symbol of the Palestinians' claim to East Jerusalem - an area annexed by Israel in 1967.

See also:

08 Sep 01 | Middle East
Israel rockets Fatah building
10 Aug 01 | Middle East
Q&A: Cycle of violence
06 Sep 01 | Middle East
Three dead in West Bank attacks
10 Aug 01 | Middle East
Why grab Orient House?
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