Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Former Prisoner of Zion: Don't Hang Palestinian!

JERUSALEM: Ida Nudel, the world renowned former Prisoner of Zion, has appealed to Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on behalf of Ima'ad Sa'ad, a Palestinian who has been sentenced to death by a Palestinian Authority military court. Sa'ad, 25 years old, was convicted by the court on charges that his assistance to Israel's security forces led to the killing of four Palestinian terrorists.

Based on similar cases in the past, the Palestinian Authority is quick to carry out death sentences such as these without prior notification.

Ms. Nudel, represented by Attorney Nitsana Darshan-Leitner of the human rights organization Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center, has demanded that PM Olmert assert pressure on the Palestinian Authority to immediately stay the execution. She has also appealed to the PM to raise the issue with third parties such as the United States and the European Union.

In her letter to Prime Minister Olmert, Ms. Nudel described the sentence as "inhuman" and has demanded the complete suspension of any talks taking place between Israel and the PA until the execution is stayed. She also suggested that the Palestinian donor conference to be held in Bethlehem be boycotted. Ms. Nudel also suggested the suspension of Israeli and international assistance packages to the PA as well as an appeal to the European Union and other donor nations to suspend their assistance packages as well as appeals to the United Nations and to the Vatican.

"If these diplomatic measures are not sufficient," writes Ms. Nudel, "Israel should employ its skilled military to launch a rescue operation for Ima'ad Sa'ad."

The issue of Palestinians who help Israel's security services save Israeli lives is hardly new to Shurat HaDin nor to Ms. Nudel. As part of their long-standing campaign to not forsake these individuals to a certain, cruel and very public death, they have met with many Israeli and International political leaders including Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican's former Apostolic Nuncio to Israel and now Apostolic Nuncio to the United States.

Along with Shurat Hadin Ms. Nudel has succeeded in the past in asserting enough pressure via diplomatic means to bring the Palestinian Authority to stay the execution in a similar case and have the individuals sentences commuted from death to life with hard labor.

Two years ago, Shurat HaDin and Ms. Nudel petitioned Israel's High Court of Justice to do all it could to help stay the execution of 50 Palestinians charged and convicted in Palestinian military courts of working with Israel's security services. As a result of the petition and the intense high level diplomatic negotiations that ensued, the Palestinian Authority assented to remove the death sentences from the table.