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Court postpones jailing of Islamic Movement in Israel leader

Leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, Sheikh Raed Salah (C), gestures outside a Jerusalem court after he was convicted on October 27, 2015
Ahmad Gharabli (AFP)
Firebrand Sheikh Raed Salah was due to start 11 month sentence for inciting violence

Israel's Supreme Court has ordered to postpone the jailing of Sheikh Raed Salah, head of the Islamic Movement in Israel.

In October, an Israeli court upheld a conviction of the firebrand Islamic cleric and jailed him for 11 months for inciting violence over Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa mosque in 2007.

Salah had been due to start his sentence on Sunday, however Supreme Court Judge Salim Joubran said that his sentence should be postponed until a new decision is made.

Salah is leader of the radical northern wing of the Islamic Movement in Israel, which authorities have accused of inciting unrest, including the wave of recent attacks and clashes.

He was initially convicted on the incitement charge in March 2014 and sentenced to eight months in prison, but both he and the prosecution appealed.

Hadash MK Yousef Jabareen told The Jerusalem Post Thursday he believes the Supreme Court will overturn the jail sentence, arguing that Salah’s activity should be protected under freedom of speech laws.

Salah's conviction comes as Israel tries to contain a wave of Palestinian violence, due in part to fears Israel was attempting to undermine the status quo at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, the third holiest site in Islam and holiest to Jews, who are prevented from praying there.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged legal measures to outlaw the Islamic Movement, which he accuses of leading anti-Israeli "incitement" that encourages violence.

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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