October 15, 2019

Hamas Lawmaker Freed from Israeli Custody

By Zach Caldwell


Israeli authorities last week released Hamas legislator Mohammed Abu Teir after holding him in custody for seven months. 

Abu Teir, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) under the Hamas-controlled Change and Reform Bloc, has been barred from entry to Jerusalem since 2010. The March arrest was his most recent; he has been repeatedly detained since 1974, spending a total of 37 years in custody. Once a member of Hamas armed wing, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Abu Teir was elected in 2006 to represent Jerusalem in the Hamas-led PLC.

The U.S. government sanctioned Hamas-affiliated PLC members after the terror group claimed victory in the 2006 Palestinian elections. Abu Teir was sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department as part of an April 2006 memorandum designating legislators “elected to the PLC on the party slate of Hamas three months after the group’s election victory. Hamas was designated by the U.S. government in 1997 as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO). It was initially sanctioned in 1995 as a terrorist organization threatening the Middle East peace process.

The “Non SDN Palestinian Legislative Council List” is a reference tool last updated in 2016 by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) to provide “actual notice of actions by OFAC” regarding PLC representatives. The list included PLC representatives from the party slates of Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Abu Teir is on the PLC list compiled by OFAC. 

He is not considered a Specially Designated National (SDN), a status that blocks a person or entity’s assets and generally prohibits U.S. persons from dealing with them. However, U.S. financial institutions are authorized to reject transactions with PLC members elected on the Hamas party slate, or that of any other sanctioned terrorist organization, according to guidance from the Treasury. 

The PLC was dissolved in January in an order issued by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority. But the body still operates in the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by Hamas.


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