Arrest (illustrative)
Arrest (illustrative)iStock

The Palestinian Authority has arrested several people who said they would favor Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, corroborating sources said this week, despite Ramallah's denial.

In an Israeli television report aired in early June, several Palestinian Arabs in Judea and Samaria are heard expressing the hope of becoming Israeli citizens if the sovereignty plan moves forward.

The comments by those interviewed directly contradict the Palestinian Authority's total opposition to the application of Israeli sovereignty.

The Palestinian Arabs featured in the program were captured by hidden camera and their identities concealed in the broadcast through blurred faces and distorted voices.

"I want an Israeli identity card," one Palestinian is heard saying. Another stated that he didn't see "Israelis as enemies -- their government is the enemy". And a third said he "chose Israel" and wasn't afraid to speak out publicly.

The prominent Israeli journalist who made the report, Tzvi Yehezkeli, said at least six people who spoke out in favor of annexation were subsequently arrested by the PA's security services.

"I was surprised to see that even though I've blurred the faces of all the people I filmed and distorted their voices, the Palestinian Authority has reached and arrested (some) of them, it's just amazing," he told AFP.

Contacted by AFP, several PA security sources rejected the claims.

"We have not arrested anyone in connection with this case," Palestinian Authority interior ministry spokesman Ghassan Nimr told AFP, while Palestinian Authority police spokesman Louay Arzeikat also denied anyone was being held over the report.

'Fear' of arrest

Israel had set July 1 as the date from which it could decide on the implementation of the Middle East plan proposed by US President Donald Trump and backed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

It proposes Israel extend its law over large swaths of Judea and Samaria.

No announcement has so far been made on the sovereignty plan, but Netanyahu has said talks with Washington are ongoing.

Some 88 percent of Palestinian Arabs oppose the "Trump plan", according to a poll last month by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research, and 52 percent even said they would support a return to armed struggle.

Nonetheless, Yehezkeli, who has been a correspondent in Judea and Samaria for nearly 25 years, told AFP he realized there are also many Palestinian Arabs who do not share the outright opposition of their leaders.

Some interviewees had told him that "we don't care about annexation" and that "the Palestinian Authority has failed" and was "corrupt", he said, adding that he regretted not airing all those comments on television.

He insisted he had been told of their subsequent arrests by their families and stressed that he felt "responsible".

One Palestinian Arab man contacted by AFP said his relative, who had criticized the PA in the report, had been held for several weeks by Palestinian Authority police and was due to face a court soon.

The individual said he was also in favor of Israeli sovereignty and, despite "fear" of being arrested, added he remained hopeful "that Israel will give us citizenship".

צבי יחזקאלי משוחח עם הפלסטינים שמחכים להחלת ריבונותבאדיבות חדשות 13