We’re used to the Shabak secretly arresting Palestinians, torturing them for days or weeks, refusing to allow any contact with their lawyers, and when they’re ready announcing to the world they’ve caught a terrorist red-handed. In the case of Anat Kamm, we saw some of these same procedures used against an Israeli Jew. But it’s very rare for the secret police to treat foreigners this way.
They have in the case of Ibrahim Siam, a wealthy Jordanian-Candian businessman who entered Palestine to attend a business conference to which he was invited by PA President Mahmoud Abbas. He is originally Palestinian, but left his home decades ago and now divides his time between Amman and Canada. He has business interests based in China, Qatar and Croatia.
Haaretz notes he’s been in prison for twelve days, which would put his arrest on May 6th. One of the reasons Haaretz knew about his arrest was through a website which publicizes the arrests of Palestinians, especially those affiliated with Hamas. Siam’s detention is noted here.
Shabak claims they arrested him because he’s a Hamas operative. There’s one little problem with this: Abbas is the leader of the PA, which detests Hamas. So the thought that Abbas would invite a Hamas loyalist to participate in a conference promoting business relations in Palestine is ludicrous. In other words, the Shabak explanation is a lie.
I should note Israel has a history of arresting Palestinians attending business and technology conferences hosted by the PA and Palestinian NGOs. The State Department hosted a similar event meant to promote the use of technology by Palestinian NGOs. It invited leaders of various non-profit organizations. But one of them, according to the Shabak was a big bad terrorist. Imagine that, the U.S. State Department consorting with Palestinian terrorists! Of course, the guy was nothing of the sort. He ran a perfectly legitimate non-profit. But the notion that the U.S. government was helping Palestinian NGOs so enraged the secret police, they decided they’d take someone down a peg or two and teach him his place. Of course, the Shabak later claimed it was all a mistake and released the poor lad a few weeks later without any charges. Sure it was.
In the same light, the secret services may dislike the notion that Palestinians are promoting their own economic development. Given that the PA plans to bring Israel before the ICC and bring the question of statehood before the Security Council, it makes perfect sense to harass any businessman brave enough to want to try to help his own, like Siam. I note that Siam disappeared after recording an interview with al-Falastina which aired on May 5th. He speaks in the interview purely about Palestinian economic development. I’m guessing the Shin Bet wanted to make an example of a foreigner trying to boost the Palestinian economy.
He mentions in this interview that he’d already attended the conference in Ramallah. So the Haaretz report which claims he was arrested before the conference is wrong. My guess is that Siam may’ve said something in this interview which angered the Israeli secret police.
We know that Shabak desperately wishes to prevent Hamas-PA reconciliation and the formation of a national unity government. It may be possible that Siam’s mission in Ramallah was promoting such negotiations. Though I strongly doubt this possibility.
One thing is for sure: Siam chose the two worst nationalities in the world for the purpose of aiding him in his detention. Canada’s rightist government detests Palestinians and has a cozy relationship with Israeli intelligence services. Jordan too has an exceedingly intimate relationship with the Shabak and Mossad, as shown by the former’s collusion with the Mossad in the arrest of Dirar Abusisi while on his way from Gaza to the Ukraine. Neither country will do much, if anything on his behalf. In fact, if they could betray him either one might. Nevertheless, the article does say both countries have protested his arrest and denial of legal representation. I suppose that’s something.
Of course, there are strict protocols governing the arrest of foreign nationals which include immediately notifying their consulate or embassy so the detainees may be provided support and legal-diplomatic representation. Israel, of course, ignores such procedures when they’re inconvenient as they did for some time in this case. Another example of a nation which derogates democratic principles and flouts international diplomatic protocols.