Photo Credit: Courtesy of the Knesset
MK Avi Dichter in a virtual meeting with the Committee on Human Rights of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Nov. 3, 2020.

The Committee on Human Rights of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), an international organization of national parliaments whose primary purpose is to promote democratic governance, accountability, and cooperation among its members, on Tuesday called on Israel to immediately release Marwan Barghouti and Ahmad Sa’adat, who are both imprisoned in Israel.

The IPU said in a statement that it is “deeply concerned” that, after being incarcerated for 16 years, Barghouti has “no horizon for an early release.” The IPU said Barghouti’s trial was unfair and that his conviction was unfounded.


Barghouti was indicted in an Israeli civilian court in 2002 on 26 counts of murder and attempted murder stemming from attacks carried out by the group he founded, the al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades, on Israeli civilians and soldiers. Barghouti refused to present a defense to the charges against him, maintaining throughout that the trial was illegal and illegitimate.

The IPU also claimed that Sa’dat was not receiving the medical treatment he needs, is not allowed to be visited by his family, and has been placed in solitary confinement. Also, according to the IPU, political considerations affect Israel’s decisions about his treatment.

Sa’dat was accused by Israel of organizing the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Ze’evi in 2001. As part of an agreement with Israel, Sa’adat was tried by a Palestinian Authority court and sent to a Jericho prison in 2002. In the PA elections of January 2006, Sa’adat was elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and in March of 2006, he was going to be released from prison. The US and British team monitoring Jericho prison left the site over what they said were poor security conditions, and so, on the same day they were leaving, Israeli forces took Sa’adat and five other security prisoners into custody. In December 2006 he was sentenced to 30 years by an Israeli military court.

MK Avi Dichter (Likud), a former Minister of Internal Security and chief of the Shin Bet who now heads the Knesset delegation to the IPU, told the group’s representatives in a virtual meeting Tuesday: “Last night, regretfully, we witnesses once again the harsh results of terror incidents, this time in Vienna. We send our condolences to the families of those who were murdered and wishes for a speedy recovery to those injured. Barghouti and Sa’adat are terrorists who are behind the murder of innocent people. They were sent to prison, and from that moment on they were no longer members of the Palestinian Legislative Council who are worthy of preferential treatment. I suggest that you refrain from expressing support for terrorists.”

The PA representative at the meeting, Bilal Qaseem, told the committee that Barghouti and Sa’dat “are freedom fighters and activists for human rights and peace. The Palestinian nation elects its representatives, and the Israeli occupier has no right to intervene in this. With these actions, the Israelis are the terrorists.”

Since both terrorists were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council in 2006, Nassirou Bako Arifari of Benin, the President of the Committee on the Human Rights of MPs, said “Israel is a democratic country that protects human rights, and as such, it should assist the Union and allow it to visit the prisoners. Parliament members may not be imprisoned without a fair trial.”

And so it goes.


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