Israel’s State Attorney Recommends Government Not Charge Hanan Ashrawi

State Attorney Dorit Beinish has recommended that the government not press legal charges against Palestinian activist Hanan Ashrawi.

In a written legal opinion Monday, Beinish questioned police claims that there is a strong case to be made against Ashrawi for violating the Israeli law that forbids contacts with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

She also referred to the political implications that would arise should the West Bank academic, who gained worldwide attention as spokeswoman for the Palestinian delegation at the recent Madrid peace conference, be arrested and put on trial by the Israeli authorities.

Those considerations are just as important as the legal aspects of the case, she stressed.

The final decision rests with Attorney General Yosef Harish. Although he will consult first with Justice Minister Dan Meridor. Harish is expected to accept Beinish’s recommendation.

The police investigated allegations that Ashrawi met with PLO figures in Tunis in August, on the complaint of Knesset member Elyakim Haetzni of the right-wing Tehiya party.

But chances that any action would be taken against the Bir Zeit University lecturer faded after President Bush expressed his personal concern over her plight at a meeting with Arab-American leaders in the White House last Friday.

Meanwhile, 30 Knesset members appealed to President Chaim Herzog this week to grant amnesty to peace activist Abie Nathan, who is doing an 18-month prison stretch for meeting PLO chief Yasir Arafat last spring.

Laborite Uzi Baram said that considering the decision not to press charges against Ashrawi for the same offense, Nathan should be pardoned.

But the President’s Office indicated that the president will not intervene unless Nathan initiates a request for amnesty.

Officials say he has shown no “remorse.”

Nathan says he will do his time so long as the law he considers ludicrous and counterproductive remains on the books.

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