TEL AVIV – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential pardon on Wednesday, nullifying a court decision to sentence a Palestinian Authority security officer to a year in jail for critiquing Abbas’ participation in the funeral of former Israeli president Shimon Peres.
In addition to the prison sentence, Lt. Col. Osama Mansour’s military rank was suspended for writing his criticism of Abbas on Facebook.
The military court in Ramallah said Mansour was “disobeying orders” and that his Facebook post was in direct violation of the requirement that officers refrain from expressing political opinions.
But on Wednesday, an unnamed senior Palestinian official told Reuters: “The president has issued an amnesty decree in favor of Mansour and the officer will be sent into retirement.”
Mansour’s post noted the hypocrisy of Abbas paying his last respects for Peres, the “founder of settlement activity.”
“Whether (Peres) was a terrorist or not, whether he invented the policy of breaking bones during the First Intifada or not, whether he was involved in the Jenin refugee camp massacre, the massacre of the al-Yasmin neighborhood in [Shechem], or the massacre of Qana — who is he that you are going to partake in his funeral while the majority of the people you represent oppose him?” the post read.
“There should be no personal or friendly relations with the occupier, as long as they continue with their arrogant policies against our people,” the post continued.
Mansour served as the director of public relations and media at the PA military liaison, the body that coordinates security with Israel.
The NGO Human Rights Watch (HRW) released a report in August showing that the PA security forces detained activists, including musicians, for condemning PA corruption and lambasting its security cooperation with Israel.
Abbas’ attendance at the funeral sparked widespread censure among all Palestinian factions, from Hamas to Abbas’ own party, Fatah.
Mansour has been under arrest since posting his view on the social network in early October.
Before the funeral, Mansour addressed Abbas directly on Facebook, writing, “If it was your decision to take part in the funeral of the killer of our children, you were wrong, and if you made the decision on the recommendation (of your advisers), you were misled.”