The European Union (EU) has voiced concern over an Israeli court’s conviction of a rights activist for protesting Israel’s segregation barrier in the West Bank.
An Israeli military court on Tuesday found the 39-year-old Abdallah Abu Rahma guilty of inciting protesters to attack Israeli soldiers and for organizing and participating in protests without a legal permit.
In a statement released on Wednesday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said the European bloc considered the barrier to be “illegal” as it is erected on Palestinian land, the Jerusalem Post reported.
She added that she was “deeply concerned” that the possibility of Abu Rahma’s imprisonment was “intended to prevent him and other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate right to protest against the existence of the separation barrier in a nonviolent manner.”
Abu Rahma, who has been in Israeli detention since December, is one of the organizers of the weekly Friday protests at the West Bank village of Bil’in. His trial drew international attention, with an EU representative attending all hearings.
Abu Rahma’s lawyer, Gaby Lasky, said the charges could carry a jail sentence of several years, and that her client would appeal the conviction.
She recalled a ruling by the High Court of Justice which ordered the barrier be moved from Bil’in, and said, “They try a person who organized protests against a fence that is itself illegal. This is an unfitting use of legal measures.”