Israeli Court Upholds Islamic Cleric Incitement Conviction

Israel’s Supreme Court denied on Monday a request by firebrand Islamic cleric Raed Salah to appeal his conviction for inciting violence, but cut his prison sentence by two months to nine.

Salah leads the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which authorities outlawed last year after accusing it of instigating violence at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque that sparked months of Palestinian unrest in October.

In March 2014 Jerusalem’s Magistrates’ Court found him guilty of inciting unrest at Al-Aqsa in 2007, sentencing him to eight months in prison.

The state as well as Salah appealed the decision, and in 2014 the Jerusalem District Court convicted him of incitement to racism as well, increasing his sentence to 11 months, a decision appealed once more by both sides.

In October 2015 the District Court upheld the decision, with Salah requesting permission to appeal to the Supreme Court.

On Monday the Supreme Court denied the request to appeal, but in a rare move reduced Salah’s prison time to nine months from 11.

The ruling said this was “due to the fact that in the nine years that past since the event, (Salah) has not committed similar felonies”.

Salah will begin his prison term on May 8.

Monday’s decision comes as a wave of Palestinian violence since October, due in part to fears Israel was attempting to undermine the status quo at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, was largely abating.

Salah’s 2007 offence took place during a demonstration against Israeli construction work near the Al-Aqsa compound, in Jerusalem’s Old City, and his speech was followed by clashes during which a number of Israeli policemen were injured.

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