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Hunger Striker is Formally Charged with Violating Law He’s Protesting

Peace activist Abie Nathan, his hunger strike for peace uninterrupted, appeared Wednesday in Ramla Magistrates Court to be formally charged with violating the law he has been protesting with his fast for the past 17 days.

He was brought to court from the hospital, where he was taken by ambulance Tuesday after his doctor detected an “irregular heartbeat.”

His doctor had warned him earlier that he was endangering his life with the fast, on which he drinks only fruit juice and water since he began his hunger strike April 29.

Brought before the bench, Nathan was accused of having had two illegal meetings in Tunis last year with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, in contravention of the Israeli statute that forbids Israelis from having contact with members of terrorist groups.

Nathan, who served four months in jail last year for an earlier violation of the same law, readily admits the meetings but maintains they were in the context of a news conference and therefore not illegal.

The case was adjourned until September.

Nathan, 60, underwent an electrocardiogram and blood tests while at Beilinson Hospital, but refused intravenous infusions of glucose.

Nathan has described as “foolish and illegal” the law, which forbids contacts with “enemy Palestinian leaders.”

“Who else but the enemy should we talk with to make peace?” Nathan repeatedly asks.

Nathan told the court that he could name 200 other prominent Israelis who have met with Arafat and PLO leaders.

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