CAIRO: Arab and Islamic officials on Sunday condemned Israel for arresting the Palestinian parliament speaker and called for his immediate release.
Egypt, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference said the arrest early Sunday of Abdel Aziz Duaik, a member of Hamas, at his West Bank home violated international laws.
This is a violation of all international charters and norms and all agreements signed between the Palestinian and Israeli sides, Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul-Gheit said in a statement.
The Israeli military has said that as a Hamas leader, Duaik was a target for arrest.
But Arab League Assistant Secretary-General Mohammed Sobeih said Israel violated the principles of democracy to prove that it is a state which has no connection at all to democracy but masters the art of kidnapping, torture and terrorism.
On June 29, Israeli forces in the West Bank rounded up dozens of Hamas officials, including eight Cabinet ministers. One was released earlier last week. The roundup was part of Israel s campaign against Hamas after a cross-border raid on June 25 in which Hamas-linked militants killed two Israeli soldiers and captured another.
Since the original sweep, Israeli forces had twice surrounded Duaik s house but failed to arrest him.
The Secretary-General of the OIC also condemned Israel s offensive in Gaza. At least 17 Palestinians have been killed since Israeli troops and tanks moved back into southern Gaza three days ago.
Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu said the killings in Gaza call for the urgent need for the international community to move seriously to put an end to the Israeli aggression.
Israel has demanded the release of the soldier and an end to the firing of homemade rockets at Israel by Gaza militants. Hamas has said it would release the soldier if Israel released some Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails, particularly women and children.
Meanwhile, Egypt s Muslim Brotherhood on Sunday accused Israel of practicing a double-standard when it comes to kidnapping.
The Zionist enemy launched a war against the Palestinians and the Lebanese people because of three kidnapped soldiers, but it is kidnapping now the Palestinian parliament speaker to be added to dozens of kidnapped lawmakers and ministers, the Islamic opposition group said in a statement.