News in brief

Israeli jails

Israeli jails

On 12 December, nonviolent protest organiser Adeeb Abu Rahma from Bil’in was released after 18 months’ imprisonment, but banned from participating in political activity for four years. On 27 December, prominent Israeli nonviolent activist Jonathan Pollak was sentenced to three months in prison for “illegal assembly” for participating in a January 2008 Critical Mass ride against the siege on Gaza. (No one else on the ride was arrested.) On 14 December, 18-year-old Ajuad Zidan was sentenced to 20 days for refusing on grounds of conscience to enlist in the Israeli army, his second sentence in a month for the same “offence”. Ajuad is a member of the Druze religious community, who unlike other Palestinians, face conscription into the Israeli army.

Western Sahara

Western Sahara

As PN went to press, the Western Saharan resistance movement Polisario was holding its third round of talks in two months with the Moroccan government, which illegally occupied Western Sahara in 1975. The talks, on the outskirts of New York, were under the auspices of the UN.
Meanwhile, Morocco is facing some pressure from the EU, as the renewal of the €36.1m a year EU-Morocco fisheries agreement expires on 27 February. As previously reported, a European parliament report has concluded that the agreement is illegal because it includes Western Saharan waters, but the people of Western Sahara do not receive their share of the money.
The European commission has demanded that the Moroccan authorities prove that the fisheries agreement is also benefiting the people of Western Sahara. Back in October, the fisheries commissioner Maria Damanaki said: “We cannot renew this agreement until the Moroccan authorities have transmitted this information.”

Brian Haw update

Brian Haw update

We reported last issue that anti-war activist Brian Haw had been in hospital since September diagnosed with cancer, in fact lung cancer. Brian’s website now reports that Brian flew out of the country to begin cancer treatment at a Shen clinic on 1 January.
Brian’s peace camp continues in Parliament Square, opposite the House of Commons, though the government is making another attempt to get rid of it in the “Police Reform and Social Responsibility” bill, published on 30 November. This gives the police powers to stop protesters from erecting structures in Parliament Square and to remove any “sleeping equipment”.

DU Secrecy

DU secrecy

On 8 December, 168 countries voted for a UN general assembly resolution that states should provide “data on Depleted Uranium munitions use” to affected countries. Only four countries voted against: the UK, the US, France and Israel.