Sunday

19th Feb 2017

Israel rebukes Ashton for voicing 'concern' on military trial

  • The West Bank wall - Israel has said Ms Ashton's comments were "unusual" and "disregarded" evidence (Photo: delayed gratification)

EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton has sharply criticised the conviction of Palestinian activist Abdallah Abu Rahmah, earning herself a rebuke from the Israeli authorities.

Ms Ashton on Wednesday (25 August) expressed "deep concern" at the move and reminded the Israeli authorities that Mr Abu Rahmah is committed to non-violent protest.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Mr Abu Rahmah was convicted by a military court on Monday on charges of "incitement" and "organising and participating in an illegal demonstration." He was cleared of stone throwing and possession of arms.

The 39-year old activist, in jall having been detained in December and now awaiting sentence, is a protest leader in the West Bank village of Bil'in. He faces a maximum sentence of 10 years. The protests are generally peaceful but often see stone-throwing by young protesters.

"The EU considers Abdallah Abu Rahmah to be a human rights defender committed to non-violent protest against the route of the Israeli separation barrier ... The EU considers the route of the barrier where it is built on Palestinian land to be illegal," said Ms Ashton is a statement. The EU has attended all the court hearings over the past eight months.

Her words came a week before the start of the first direct talks between Israel and the Palestinians for more than 18 months.

"The high representative is deeply concerned that the possible imprisonment of Mr Abu Rahmah is intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barriers in a non-violent manner," the statement continued.

UK daily The Guardian reports a spokesperson for the Israeli foreign ministry as saying that Ms Ashton had no right to make such comments.

"It is very unusual for a foreign dignitary to express views on the justice system of another country. If [Ashton] has found a flaw in the system, she should say so. Otherwise it's unclear why she should interfere in the proceedings. The fact that she has expressed a view and has disregarded the evidence is highly improper," said spokesperson Yigal Palmor.

The Popular Struggle Co-Ordination Committee called the charge "absurd," reports the UK's Independent, adding it showed how far the military would go "to silence and smear unarmed dissent."

The Committee also said that charge of organising demonstrations under Israeli military law had not been used since the first intifada starting in 1987.

Ms Ashton's intervention comes in the context of Quartet (the EU, Russia, the Un and the US) efforts to rebuild trust between Israel and Palestine in a fresh round of peace talks due to start on 2 September.

Opinion

The need for global cooperation in stopping Iran

Although Trump said he would tear up the Iran Nuclear Agreement, the new administration seems to want to work on a new policy toward Iran. Let's hope European leaders will respond in kind to this approach.

Opinion

A bold call for traineeship equality

The EU ombudsman's slapdown of the EU diplomatic service's unpaid internship programs offers a glimmer of hope to a future of paid internships in Europe.

Opinion

Africa is our destiny

U2's Bono writes that Africa should be at the centre of political leader's thoughts at the latest G20 foreign minister's summit and the Munich security conference this coming week.

News in Brief

  1. Migrants storm Spanish enclave of Ceuta
  2. Spain's princess fined for tax fraud, husband sentenced
  3. EU to invest millions in energy infrastructure
  4. Dutch data watchdog forces online vote aides to up security
  5. EU allows Lithuania to ban Russian tv channel
  6. Finland announces increase in defence spending
  7. Ex-PM Blair says Brits should 'rise up' against Brexit
  8. Nato chief says facts to prevail over fake news

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  3. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  4. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  5. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  6. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe
  7. Salzburg Global SeminarToward a Shared Culture of Health: Charting the Patient-Clinician Relationship
  8. European Free AllianceAustria Should Preserve & Promote Bilingual and Multinational Carinthia
  9. Martens CentreShow Your Love for Democracy! Take Part in Our Contest: "If It's Broken, Let's Fix It"
  10. CISPECloud Computing Leaders Establish Data Protection Standards to Protect Customer Data
  11. Malta EU 2017Landmark Deal Reached With European Parliament on Portability of Online Content
  12. Belgrade Security ForumBSF 2017: Building a Common Future in the Age of Uncertainty