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Abie Nathan Begins Prison Stint, Predicting Repeal of Law He Broke

Abie Nathan reported to prison Thursday, predicting that the law he was sentenced for violating would soon be repealed.

The 64-year-old peace activist was given an 18-month prison term last week for meeting with Palestine Liberation Organization leader Yasir Arafat in Tunis in June.

Nathan, who readily admitted to the meeting, charged that the law barring contacts with representatives of a “hostile terrorist organization” is counterproductive to peace.

The peace campaigner was sentenced last year to seven months in prison for a 1989 meeting with Arafat and served four months.

He told reporters Thursday that he would not appeal his latest sentence or ask for a pardon, because he expects the “foolish law banning peace talks with the enemy” will be canceled shortly.

Nathan reported Thursday morning to the Ramla Magistrates Court, where he was sentenced Oct. 6. From there, a prison van took him to the Nitzan detention center at Ramla prison, where he will remain until the prison authorities decide at which facility he should serve his time.

He is expected to be sent to Ma’asiyahu, a minimum security prison where white-collar offenders usually are incarcerated.

Nathan announced that his Voice of Peace radio ship, which has broadcast pop music and peace messages from just outside Israel’s territorial waters for the past 15 years, would be silent for the duration of his sentence.

Now, it seems, he is trying to sell the vessel to pay off debts.

For years, the so-called “pirate” radio ship earned money from advertising, which Nathan donated to humanitarian causes around the world. But as the political climate in Israel shifted sharply to the right, advertisers shunned the station for fear of being associated with leftist views.

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