The political trial of Jamil Safouri, a member of the political bureau of Abnaa elBalad movement, and six other residents of Shefa’amer, is, as we told our readers in the former issue of Prensa Obrera, not an isolated event, but part of an organized campaign to paralyze the Palestinian left by systematically assassinating or arresting its leaders. As part of this campaign, Muhamad Knaane (general secretary of Abnaa elBalad) and his brother Hussam have been sentenced to 4.5 and 10 years of prison respectively for having made contact with an “enemy agent.” Another prominent example of this operation is the farcical trial of Ahmed Saadat, the General Secretary of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who was charged by an Israeli military tribunal with… membership in his own organization.
The PFLP—the second largest political group within the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—advocates the end of partition in Palestine, the right of return of the refugees and the establishment of a single, secular and democratic state for both Arabs and Jews in the whole historic territory of Palestine. Following the Israeli assassination of PFLP leader Abu Ali Mustafa in August 2001, the Central Committee of the PFLP elected Ahmed Saadat as his successor. A veteran of the first Intifada, Saadat had spent some 10 years in Israeli jails, on eight separate occasions. He is a member of the national council and central council of the PLO. (For his biography and links to some interviews:
On October 17, 2001, a special unit of the PFLP shot the ultra-right-wing racist Rehavam Zeevi (an open advocate of the “transfer solution” for the Palestinians), then serving as Minister of Tourism of the Sharon government, in retaliation for the murder of Mustafa. Saadat was accused by Israel of organizing the assassination and took refuge in the Muqata’a headquarters of PLO leader Yassir Arafat, which was then besieged by Israel.
In January 2002, in exchange for lifting the military siege on the compound, the Palestinian Authority acceded to the Zionist demand to arrest Saadat and four other members of the PFLP. The four PFLP militants (Basel al-Asmar, ‘Ahed Abu Ghalma, Majdi al-Rimawi and Hamdi Qar’an) were cursorily tried by a military tribunal inside the Muqata, and sentenced to terms up to 18 years’ imprisonment for killing Zeevi. Arafat, however, ruled that because Saadat was a political leader and not a military leader, his case must be decided by the PA judiciary, and without evidence there would be no trial. They were all transferred them to a prison in Jericho guarded by U.S. and British military personnel. The Palestinian High Court of Justice in Gaza ruled that there was no evidence linking Saadat to the assassination of Zeevi, and no legal grounds for his continuing detention. It ordered his immediate release from jail, but the PNA refused to comply. Amnesty International issued a public statement declaring that his detention was illegal, and that he had to be either charged with a crime and given due process, or released.
(Amnesty International: Public Statement (13 June 2002): Israel/Occupied Territories/Palestinian Authority: Ahmad Sa’adat must be released and his safety ensured
In order to avoid the release of the PFLP members, Israel reached an agreement with the imperialists to kidnap Saadat and his comrades. On March 14, 2006, the US and Britain withdrew monitors from the Jericho jail where Saadat was being held. The prison was then surrounded by Israeli forces who, after a daylong shelling in which three Palestinian civilians were killed, took Saadat and five other inmates into custody. This massacre was celebrated by the then “Labor” candidate for Prime Minister Amir Peretz, nowadays minister of defense of the government of Ehud Olmert and a war criminal diorectly responsible for the massacres of children and entire families in the Gaza Strip.
Although the Israeli Shabak (General security services) for two months used its notorious “interrogation” (i.e. torture) methods with Saadat, and despite the huge hue and cry about “bringing the murderers of Zeevi to justice,” Israel was unable to find any evidence of Saadat’s personal involvement in Zeevi’s assassination, and therefore the prosecution decided not to charge him on this account. In these circumstances, any democratic judicial system in the world would have released Saadat—but not so in “the only democracy in the Middle East.”
The Israeli Attorney-General admitted that he could not achieve a conviction in a trial before Israel’s criminal courts for charges stemming from the murder of Zeevi and therefore…. transferred Saadat to the jurisdiction of the military courts (established under the occupation regime) to be charged with “membership in an illegal organization”—i.e. membership in the PFLP!
It doesn’t matter that Saadat is an elected member of the hostage “Palestinian Legislative Assembly” (in elections conducted under conditions imposed by Israel and the US), that he has, for several years, been the public face of the PFLP, and that he was elected to the post of General Secretary of the PFLP only after Israel assassinated his predecessor—Abu Ali Mustafa—while the latter was sitting quietly in his office in an upper floor of an office building. It even doesn’t matter that Saadat has already spent time in Israeli prison for, among other things, membership in the PFLP. Ahmad Saadat was kidnapped in order to politically decapitate the PFLP, and the Israeli military courts will make sure that this policy is implemented—by condemning Saadat for “membership” in his own organization if necessary.
It is necessary to start an international campaign for the liberation of Ahmad Saadat, Jamil Safouri, Muhamad Knaane, Hussam Knaane and all the Palestinian political prisoners, where the Jewish democrats have an important role to play, in order to show that Zionism is under no circumstances the representative of the world Jewry but a criminal colonialist movement backed by imperialism and bent on destroying the lives and the political organizations of the native people of Palestine.