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Last Updated: Friday, 7 January, 2005, 17:36 GMT
Palestinian candidate ejected
Mustafa Barghouti makes a victory sign as he is driven away in an Israeli police car
It was the second time in the campaign that Barghouti was held
A chief candidate in the Palestinian election has been barred from East Jerusalem after his arrest by Israeli police on the last day of the campaign.

Mustafa Barghouti was detained for a number of hours before being released and sent to the West Bank.

He had been campaigning in East Jerusalem, an area annexed by Israel which Palestinians hope to make the capital of a future state.

Sunday's elections were called when

Yasser Arafat died in November.

Mr Barghouti's opponent Mahmoud Abbas, the man tipped to win the election, said on Friday that he would ask current Prime Minister Ahmed Qurei to form a new government if he wins Sunday's vote.

Earlier in the day, Mr Abbas, cancelled a campaign engagement in Jerusalem saying Israeli security arrangements would have embarrassed him.

Officials in Mr Abbas' campaign said Israeli officials had wanted to provide him with a large security detail over concerns he would be attacked by Jewish extremists.

In other developments:

  • Hundreds of international observers, including former US president Jimmy Carter, begin arriving for the election

    Mahmoud Abbas in Khan Younis on Tuesday
    Mahmoud Abbas has campaigned in militant strongholds

  • Israeli security sources indicate that the Israeli military will halt its operations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip on Friday night. Israeli radio says it has been told that Israeli forces will be redeployed away from Palestinian cities to avoid interference while the electoral process is under way

  • An Israeli is shot dead and four others wounded when gunmen open fire on them near the West Bank town of Nablus. A Palestinian armed group, the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, says it carried out the attack

  • A Palestinian man is shot dead by Israeli soldiers in the Gaza Strip while attempting to enter a Jewish settlement, the Israeli army says. The army also says Palestinian militants continue to fire rockets at Israeli targets in the western Negev desert and Gaza Strip.

Driven off

Mr Barghouti, a leading democracy campaigner, was stopped by police as he tried to enter the al-Aqsa mosque for Friday prayers.

Eyewitnesses say he was bundled into a car by three plain-clothed Israeli policemen and driven away.

An Israeli police spokesman said Mr Barghouti was held for violating an agreement not to enter the mosque compound.

Campaign poster featuring Mustafa Barghouti in Ramallah
Palestinian candidates have complained of Israeli harassment
However, Mr Barghouti's lawyer, Raja Shehada, said he knew of no such agreement, and that his client's detention was pure harassment of a candidate on the final day of campaigning.

Mr Barghouti was detained last week and prevented from campaigning in East Jerusalem when he was involved in a scuffle with Israeli soldiers at a West Bank checkpoint.

Israel has annexed East Jerusalem and sees it as its exclusive domain.

Under international law, the area is considered to be occupied territory.

The area is often called Arab East Jerusalem because the majority of its inhabitants are Palestinian, and Palestinians hope to make it their future capital.


Mr Abbas, who is leader of the main Palestinian political faction, Fatah, has led the race to replace Yasser Arafat.
It seems to me that this is an exercise in pretend democracy
Ron Conover, Wisconsin, USA

Both Mr Abbas and Mr Barghouti are regarded as relative moderates, and both have used the campaign to criticise aspects of the four-year-old Palestinian uprising, or intifada.

Earlier this week, Mr Abbas used unexpectedly strong language to criticise an Israeli tank strike in Gaza which killed seven people, describing Israel as the "Zionist enemy".

But he struck a more moderate tone on Thursday, telling large crowds in the West Bank city of Nablus that he would push for peace negotiations as soon as a new Palestinian cabinet was appointed, and described Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon as a potential partner for peace.

Both candidates have campaigned against corruption and lawlessness in Palestinian society, and both have criticised the armed uprising.

Find out why Mustafa Barghouti was detained

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