October 18, 2010

UK concerned at Israeli imprisonment of Palestinian nonviolence leader


Ma'an - JERUSALEM – Britain's Foreign Office on Tuesday expressed concern over the sentencing of a Palestinian popular campaign leader by an Israeli military court to 12 years in prison, a statement read.

On Monday, Abdallah Abu Rahmah was convicted of incitement, organizing and attending demonstrations against Israel's construction of the separation wall.

Britain said its embassy in Tel Aviv has raised the issue with the Israeli government and said the Foreign Office was concerned that Abu Rahmah's continued detention "is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to non violent protest against the annexation of Palestinian land to Israel."

The UK was among several European countries who sent representatives to attend Abu Rahmah's trial, who has been in Israeli detention since December 2009.

At his hearing in August, the military prosecutor requested an exceptionally harsh sentencing in order to deter Abu Rahmah and to intimidate others, a statement from the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said.

PSCC spokesman Jonathan Pollak said the committee would appeal the sentence.

Abu Rahmah is a coordinator of the Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall and Settlements. Weekly protests are held in Bil'in against confiscation of village land to build illegal Israeli settlements.

Israeli military law in the West Bank uses a much stricter definition of illegal assembly than Israeli civilian law, in practice forbidding more than 10 people from assembling without receiving a permit from the military.

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