Palestinian parliamentarian Khalida Jarrar.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Judea Military Court has sentenced Palestinian Authority parliament member Khalida Jarrar to 15 months in prison for charges related to her membership in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, as part of a plea bargain.
The decision, which ends a saga that started controversially with putting Jarrar in administrative detention prior to her being indicted in regular court proceedings, was handed down on Sunday, but only came to light on Monday.
PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi said: “We strongly denounce the sentencing of Palestinian Legislative Council [PLC] member and a member of the political leadership of the PFLP, one of the PLO’s constituent factions, Khalida Jarrar.
“There is no legal basis for Khalida’s sentencing. The actions of the Israeli military court are politically motivated and are part of a deliberate attack on Palestinian politicians. This also constitutes a blatant violation of Khalida’s parliamentary immunity,” she said. “We demand the immediate release of Khalida and all imprisoned Palestinian parliamentarians, and we call on the High Contracting Parties of the Fourth Geneva Convention to hold Israel accountable for its blatant violations of international law.”
In June, the West Bank Military Court of Appeals ordered Jarrar to remain in detention until the end of her trial, which started later that month, on a variety of charges including incitement to violence.
Not only Sunday’s sentence, but also the June ruling, has broad implications in relations between Israel and the Palestinians, and in future close-call cases dealing with accusations against high-profile Palestinians that include classified evidence.
The case has drawn international attention and criticism because of Jarrar’s status as a PA parliament member, and is controversial even within the military court system because of the classified evidence involved and an extended delay by the IDF in deciding when to arrest Jarrar.
In the June decision, Judge Col. Netanel Benishu of the appeals court reversed a rare victory over the military prosecution for Jarrar, represented by defense lawyer Mahmoud Hassan, in the lower Judea Military Court on May 21, in which the court ordered her released over the prosecution’s objection.
In the lower court ruling, Judge Maj. Haim Balilti was not convinced that the classified evidence brought by the prosecution was serious enough to justify keeping her in custody throughout the trial.
This was especially true since the evidence of her alleged offenses dated back to 2009 and accumulated substantially in 2011, with the IDF waiting to arrest her until April 2015.
Hassan criticized the IDF prosecution for initially placing her in administrative detention, which can allow indefinite detainment without standard judicial proceedings, and claimed that it only brought standard charges against her after the corresponding international outcry.
At each stage of the case, he complained that the delay of bringing charges against her hampered his defense. He criticized the use of classified evidence he could not view that the IDF used during the detention hearings.
In contrast, the appeals court found the classified evidence so convincing of both the danger posed by Jarrar’s alleged activities and regarding the IDF’s explanation as to why it delayed arresting her from 2009 to 2015, that it ordered her remanded to custody until the end of her trial.