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Dec 8, 2015 11:28 PM

Israel sentences female Palestinian lawmaker to 15 months

The Associated Press

JERUSALEM (AP) An Israeli military court has sentenced a female Palestinian lawmaker to 15 months in prison after convicting her of belonging to an illegal organization and incitement, the army announced Tuesday, drawing angry denunciations from Palestinian leaders in the West Bank.

The sentencing of Khalida Jarrar marked the culmination of a case that has attracted widespread attention. Jarrar is a popular figure in the West Bank and known for her fiery speeches against Israel.

Jarrar was arrested last April in a raid on her home for allegedly violating Israeli travel restrictions that barred her from Ramallah, the West Bank city where her family lives. She was subsequently charged with incitement and membership in an illegal organization.

Palestinians say Jarrar, who is in her early 50s and the mother of two grown daughters who are pursuing advanced university degrees in Canada, was prosecuted for political reasons. They say the evidence against her was flimsy and that she poses no threat to public safety.

Israel's military courts try Palestinians charged with security offenses against Israel under a separate legal system from the one that serves Israelis. Critics say that Palestinians who are tried under the military courts are seldom acquitted and many, fearing they have little chance of proving their innocence, opt to accept the shorter sentences offered in plea bargains.

Hanan Ashrawi, a senior Palestinian official, said there was "no legal basis" for the sentencing. In a statement issued on behalf of the Palestine Liberation Organization's Executive Committee, she said it violated Jarrar's parliamentary immunity and called for her immediate release.

"The actions of the military court are politically motivated and are part of a deliberate attack on Palestinian politicians," she said. "It is high time for the dehumanization and the captivity of the Palestinian people to end."

Jarrar is a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a secular, left-leaning Palestinian faction that opposes peace with Israel. The group, which was involved in hijackings and other attacks in the 1970s, has scaled back its militant activities in recent years.

In a statement, the Israeli army said Jarrar was convicted under a plea agreement on Sunday in a military court for her PFLP membership and for allegedly calling for Palestinians to kidnap Israeli soldiers in order to win the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel. It said she will be credited for time served.

Jarrar is also an outspoken feminist activist who was involved in a Palestinian bid to press for war crimes charges against Israel at the International Criminal Court. She has criticized the Palestinian Authority for its security cooperation with Israel, which has continued even during the past three months of Israeli-Palestinian fighting.

In the latest violence, a Palestinian official said a Palestinian youth was shot and killed early Tuesday in clashes with Israeli soldiers at the Deheishe refugee camp in the West Bank.

The Israeli military said Palestinians attacked soldiers on "routine activity" in the area with pipe bombs and burning tires. It said forces fired warning shots to disperse them. The military is investigating the Palestinian claims, it said.

Over the past three months, 19 Israelis have been killed in near-daily Palestinian attacks, mostly stabbings. At least 109 Palestinians have been killed. They include 73 people said by Israel to be attackers, with the remainder killed in clashes with Israeli troops.


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