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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 September 2018

Palestinian MP gets six months in Israel jail without trial

Israel's controversial administrative detention policy allows imprisonment without trial for six-month periods renewable indefinitely

Prominent Palestinian politician and rights campaigner Khalida Jarrar has been ordered detained for six months without trial by Israeli authorities, a rights group said.

Ms Jarrar was arrested earlier this month over her membership of a movement that Israel considers a terrorist organisation after having been released from prison only a year before.

A legislator in the largely defunct Palestinian parliament, she was given a six-month administrative detention order, said the rights NGO Addameer which she used to head.

A confirmation hearing will be held at Ofer military court in the Israeli-occupied West Bank on July 17, Addameer said late Wednesday.

The "detention constitutes an attack against Palestinian civil society leaders", the movement said.

The Israeli army did not reply to a request for comment on Ms Jarrar's case.

Ms Jarrar is a senior figure in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, a Marxist party considered a terrorist organisation by Israel, the United States and European Union.

Many of its leaders are in custody and Ms Jarrar has been jailed multiple times. Israel has said she was arrested for her involvement with the PFLP.

The 54-year-old had only been released in June 2016 after 14 months in an Israeli jail for allegedly encouraging attacks against Israelis.

Israel's controversial administrative detention policy allows imprisonment without trial for six-month periods renewable indefinitely.

Israel says it is intended to allow authorities to hold suspects while continuing to gather evidence, with the aim of preventing attacks in the meantime.

But the system has been criticised by Palestinians, human rights groups and members of the international community who say Israel abuses the measure.

The Palestinian Prisoners' Club says around 6,500 Palestinians are currently in Israeli jails for a range of offences and alleged crimes, including around 500 in administrative detention.

Ms Jarrar is the 11th member of the Palestinian parliament, which has not met since 2007.

Meanwhile, rights groups say international pressure on the Palestinian Authority to halt payments to the families of Palestinians held in Israeli jails - including those convicted of attacks - could trigger political crisis.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas is caught between pressure from US president Donald Trump's administration and a potential backlash from Palestinians, most of whom view their prisoners as heroes. Those killed carrying out attacks against Israelis are regularly venerated as "martyrs" by other Palestinians.

Since 2004, Palestinian law has stipulated that the government pay allowances to families of those jailed for attacks and activities against Israel and Israelis.

Palestinian officials say some 850,000 people have spent time in Israeli prisons in the 50 years since Israel seized the Palestinian territories in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

Israel says these payments to the families of attackers encourage further violence. But for Palestinians, such payments are a key source of income for families who have in many cases lost their main breadwinner.

They are also symbolically important after decades of yearning for elusive statehood and struggle against Israel's occupation.

A recent poll showed that 91 per cent of Palestinians oppose suspending stipends to those in Israeli jails for security-related offences.

"To lay a finger on the prisoners' rights is to attack the Palestinian struggle," said Helmi Al Aaraj, director general of the Centre for Defence of Liberties and Civil Rights.

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