October 22, 2010

EU 'concerned' after Israel jails activist


Ma'an - BETHLEHEM – The EU said Tuesday it was concerned by Israel's jailing of an anti-wall activist.

Abdallah Abu Rahmah was convicted of incitement, organizing and attending demonstrations against Israel's construction of the separation wall. He was sentenced last Monday to 12 months in prison.

"The EU Representatives to the Palestinian Authority and the EU Consul Generals in Jerusalem are concerned by the 12 months sentence to prison of Abdallah Abu Rahma," they said in a statement. "The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahma a human rights defender who has protested in a peaceful manner against the route of the Israeli separation barrier through his village of Bil'in."

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.

"The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal. The EU supports the key role of human rights defenders in promoting and furthering of human rights," the EU statement said. "In this context, as already expressed in a spokesperson's statement of High Representative Catherine Ashton on 25 August, we regret the sentence of Abdallah Abu Rahma."

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.

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."

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