Hamas official, Abu Tir was ordered to leave Jerusalem and move to the West Bank. He refused and was arrested last week, bringing policies towards Hamas and ethnic cleansing in East Jerusalem once again to the center of the debate.Abu Tir was elected for the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006. That year Hamas won the Palestinian elections, which were internationally monitored and found to be democratically correct. However, they were not recognized by Israel and the international community, leading to several clashes with Hamas.

On June 25, Ghilad Shalit was taken captive near the Gaza strip. As a response Abu Tir and a dozen other Hamas officials were arrested in Jerusalem.

After four years of jail, Abu Tir was released in May under the condition he would leave Jerusalem and move to the West Bank under the authority of the PA. This was seen as another clear signal that East Jerusalem was far away from ever becoming the capital of a Palestinian state.

Early June the police confiscated his identity card, seizing his right under occupation rule to live in East Jerusalem. Because Abu Tir refused to leave his home in East Jerusalem, he was seen as residing in Jerusalem and Israel illegally. This lead to his arrest two weeks ago.

Now Israeli prosecutors of the Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court are pressing charges against Abu Tir, in the hopes of a new jail sentence for the man.

In the mean time, the status and official position of Abu Tir is unclear. While he is known to be a senior Hamas official, he stated that he was not representing Hamas but the Palestinian people and the Arabs living in Jerusalem.

His wife similarly declared that “contrary to belief, he is not a member of Hamas”.

To comply with Israeli demands, Abu Tir would have to pay NIS100, 000 and leave Jerusalem. While he is willing to pay the bail, he will not leave his home in East Jerusalem.