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Palestinians call for boycott of Israeli courts

Palestinians hold placards during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli Jails on 21 February 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]
Palestinians hold placards during a protest to show solidarity with Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli Jails on 21 February 2017 [Ashraf Amra/Apaimages]

The PLO's Committee for Prisoners and Freed Prisoners and the Palestinian Prisoners' Club have called for a boycott of Israeli courts due to their "extremism" and "racism", Quds Press reported on Sunday.

"The Israeli court which sentenced the killer soldier [Elor Azaria] is the same court which retried Palestinian prisoner Nael Al-Barghouti," PLO committee head Isa Qarage told a press conference in Ramallah.

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Azaria was sentenced last week to 18 months in prison for killing the wounded and incapacitated Palestinian Abdel Fattah Al-Sharif in the West Bank city of Hebron last year. Incredibly, the court only found him guilty of "manslaughter" and not murder. Nael Al-Barghouti, meanwhile, has spent 36 years behind bars in Israel. He was released as part of the prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel in 2011 and then promptly rearrested, retried and given a life sentence.

"This court gives expression to Israeli fascism and extremism," said Qaraqe. He stressed the importance of Palestinians boycotting the courts.

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According to the head of the Prisoners' Club, Qadoura Fares, Palestinians need to adopt a strategy to deal with the issue of the prisoners. He called for the Palestinian national committee, which is in charge of formal contacts with the International Criminal Court, to take the prisoners' issue there for its consideration. "We have listened to several international experts telling us that it is not possible to continue accepting the sentences of the Israeli courts," he added.

Al-Sharif's father attended the press conference along with Al-Barghouti's wife. "The ruling against Azaria is a joke," he said, "and the court is a play." Al-Barghouti's family are still "in shock" since his life sentence.

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