JERUSALEM (Aug. 22)
A military court in Judaea has sentenced a former head of the Bethlehem Village Leagues to two years in jail. Bishara Kumssiye was convicted Monday on charges of attempts against political adversaries, among them Elias Freij, the Mayor of Bethlehem. Kumssiye was at the time one of the more influential leaders of the Leagues, which, prior to the Lebanon war, were encouraged by then Defense Minister Ariel Sharon as a pro-Israeli Arab organization in the territories. Following the war, the new administrators at the Defense Ministry tended to downplay the importance of the Leagues.