TEL AVIV (Jul. 15)
Peace activist Abie Nathan was released on $12,000 personal bail at midnight Sunday, after a three-hour grilling by detectives from the serious crimes unit.
Both of Nathan’s passports– Israeli and British–were confiscated, and he was instructed to be available for further questioning.
Nathan was arrested as he stepped off a plane from Paris at Ben-Gurion Airport on Sunday evening, after his most recent meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasir Arafat, which took place in Tunis in late June.
He faces the possibility of serving a one year suspended sentence for previously violating the law banning Israelis from contacts with PLO figures.
In a vain effort to have the law repealed, Nathan staged a hunger strike for 40 days, which he ended in June, shortly before going to Tunis.
He expected to be arrested on his return to Israel.
Nathan told reporters on leaving the local police station that he had been treated “correctly and courteously” by his interrogators.
He said the questioning took three hours because the police closely examined the masses of documents in his possession, including telex and fax messages he exchanged with Arab leaders in Jordan, Yemen and elsewhere while he was in Tunis and Paris.
As in the past, Nathan insisted he would continue to seek meetings with Arafat and other PLO figures. He has repeatedly said Israel must talk to its enemies if it is to make peace with them.
He expressed deep disappointment with his abandonment by traditional supporters on the political left.
“They are making a mistake,” he said referring to Knesset members Amnon Rubinstein, Shulamit Aloni, Haim Ramon and others, who made clear last month that while they sympathized with his aims, they were fed up with Nathan’s repeated violations of the law.
Members of the extreme right-wing Moledet party and the leftist Yesh Gvul (There’s a Limit) movement demonstrated outside the police station while Nathan was being questioned.
The two groups shouted invectives at each other, but police kept them apart. None of the demonstrators got a glimpse of Nathan.