Rasmea Odeh, Palestinian woman imprisoned in Israel for terror attack, takes US plea deal


(JTA) — A Palestinian woman who had not told U.S. immigration authorities that she had been imprisoned in Israel for two terror attacks accepted a plea bargain that forces her to leave the country.

Rasmea Odeh, 69, would not spend time in U.S. prison or detention but would lose her U.S. citizenship, according to a Thursday statement by the Rasmea Defense Committee. As part of the deal, she would plead guilty on April 25, a member of her legal team, William Goodman, told The Associated Press.

News of the plea bargain came amid criticism from some in the Jewish world about the anti-Israel views of Odeh and Linda Sarsour, two pro-Palestinian activists who have recently taken public roles in various feminist events and are speaking together at a plenary at an upcoming conference for Jewish Voice for Peace, a group that backs the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel.

In 2015, Odeh was sentenced in the U.S. to 18 months in prison for covering up her conviction and imprisonment in Israel when she entered the country in 1995 and applied for citizenship in 2004, but the conviction was later vacated.

Odeh was convicted by Israel of involvement in a 1969 bombing in Jerusalem that killed two and injured nine. She was sentenced by an Israeli military court in 1970 to life in prison for two bombing attacks on behalf of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and spent 10 years in prison before being released in a prisoner exchange in 1980.

Odeh confessed to planting the bomb in the 1969 attack, though in recent years has claimed the confession was given under torture, which is disputed by Israeli officials.

JVP in a Thursday statement said Odeh, one of the leaders of the grassroots feminist International Women’s Strike, would not have been able to have a fair trial in the U.S. and confirmed it was still hosting her at its conference, scheduled for March 30-April 2 in Chicago.

“When a leader like Rasmea Odeh who fights for justice chooses to leave a fight, she knows the game is rigged,” the statement read.

The JVP statement criticized the Justice Department and Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

“In the context of a Justice Department led by racist attorney general Jeff Sessions, a prosecutor with , and a new indictment that turns her immigration trial into a repeat of the false charges of terrorism against her, Rasmea has made the difficult decision to leave the home and community she has built in the U.S. over the last 20 years,” it read.

The Israel advocacy group StandWithUs has slammed JVP for hosting Odeh, but the pro-BDS organization defended its decision earlier this month, saying it was “proud” to host Odeh and questioning the validity of her Israeli conviction.

Sarsour, who organized the Women’s March on Washington in January and also helped plan the Women’s Strike, recently said there is no space in the feminist movement for those who do not criticize Israel.

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