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Two weeks ago, under the not-so-gentle pressure of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was forced to pledge that Israel would not disrupt the elections for the legislative council of the Palestinian Authority, scheduled for late January 2006, due to the participation of Hamas, which is defined as a terror organization. This means the Hamas candidates, like their counterparts in other parties, will also be vying for the votes of Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem.

Despite this, three youths from East Jerusalem are now standing trial in Jerusalem District Court. Their crime: political activity prior to the elections for the legislative council. The criminal charges: membership and activity in a terrorist organization - the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP). If the small fry from the Popular Front are being thrown into jail, what will be done to big fish of Hamas?

The PFLP activists, Ghassem Abidat from the neighborhood of Jabal Mukkaber, Ahmed Muslimani from Beit Hanina and Nasser Abu Hadir from Shuafat, were arrested about six months ago. They are accused of attending a gathering the organization held at the YMCA club in East Jerusalem in honor of high-school students who completed their matriculation examinations; contributing NIS 800 to the event and distributing meat to families of jailed or deceased members of the organization in the Azariah neighborhood of Jerusalem.