Israel releases leftist lawmaker Khalida Jarrar

Lawmaker Khalida Jarrar is carried by supporters, near the Jabara checkpoint in the northern occupied West Bank, following her release from an Israeli jail on 3 June.

Nedal Eshtayah APA images

After 14 months in an Israeli prison, Palestinian legislator Khalida Jarrar was released on Friday at the Jabara checkpoint on the boundary between present-day Israel and the occupied West Bank.

Jarrar, a 53-year-old member of the Palestinian Legislative Council and a leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), was arrested on 2 April 2015 during a night raid on her home in Ramallah.

Dozens of supporters waited to greet her upon her release, including Ayman Odeh, the head of the Joint Arab List in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset.

At her home in Ramallah, she reminded reporters that “There are still many prisoners, more than 7,000 – including judges, parliamentarians, children and the sick.”

Last December Jarrar was sentenced to 15 months in prison, including the time she’d already been held, and also ordered to pay a fine of $2,500.

She was reportedly released a month early due to prison overcrowding.

Political charges

Jarrar was initially ordered held in administrative detention for six months, which was reduced to one month following international pressure.

Administrative detention is the British colonial practice still used by Israel of detaining people, almost always Palestinians, without charge or trial for indefinitely renewable terms.

The Israeli military then produced a list of 12 charges against her that focused on her prisoner advocacy and activism, including delivering speeches at meetings and rallies, visiting and honoring a released prisoner and participating in a book fair.

Last December, after spending eight months in prison, Jarrar reached a plea deal with the Israeli authorities and her charges were reduced to membership in an illegal organization and incitement to violence.

Israel considers most Palestinian political factions, including Jarrar’s PFLP to be illegal under its military occupation regime. There are currently six Palestinian lawmakers members in Israeli prisons.

Her lawyer, Mahmoud Hassan, explained at the time that Jarrar accepted the plea deal because she didn’t “expect [to receive] any justice from the court of the occupation.”

“They are a joke,” Jarrar said of Israeli military courts. “It’s like a big theater, I do not trust them and my detention has been political since the beginning.”

Israel’s military courts have a nearly 100 percent rate of convicting Palestinians.

Human Rights Watch said “her case is rife with due process violations.”

Amnesty International has said that Khalida Jarrar “has been subjected to decades of harassment and intimidation by the Israeli authorities.”

After Jarrar’s sentencing, Amnesty said that the “proceedings against her and her sentence appear to be punitive measures used to supress her right to free and peaceful expression.”

Active parliamentarian

Jarrar is head of the Palestinian Legislative Council’s prisoners’ committee and serves as the Palestinian representative to the Council of Europe. She also sits on the board of Palestinian prisoners rights group Addameer.

Jarrar was arrested one day after Palestine officially became a member of the International Criminal Court.

She had been selected to serve on the official committee to oversee the membership.

At her hearing in May, the military court judge rejected the defense argument that she be granted diplomatic immunity.

Israel has maintained a travel ban on Jarrar since 1998. In 2014 the military tried to banish her to Jericho for six months.

Jarrar defied the order, setting up a protest tent in Ramallah until her expulsion was reduced to 30 days.




Thank God for her release and for the fact that time is running out for the Palestinian people's persecutors. It won't be a soft landing!

Charlotte Silver

Charlotte Silver's picture

Charlotte Silver is an independent journalist and regular writer for The Electronic Intifada. She is based in Oakland, California and has reported from Palestine since 2010. Follow her on Twitter @CharESilver.