Minister of Children and equality Anniken Huitfeldt (Ap) wants to visit her Palestinian friend and political ally, who is in an Israeli prison, but is being denied this by Israel. The embassy does not answer her letters. Now she counterattacks.
– If Israel is a lawabiding state, they should grant me such a permit. At the least give me an answer with an explanation, says Huitfeldt to Dagsavisen.
Now, in the property of being leader of Labor’s (Arbeiderpartiet) womens neetwork, written a new letter to Israel’s embassy in Oslo where she repeats her demand of meeting Hussam Shaheen.
– I hope the embassy is not neglecting to answer the letter because the case is uncomfortable for them, says Huitfeldt.
Dagsavisen yesterday asked the Israeli embassy for an explanation of why Huitfeldt and the other parliament reprsentatives haven’t received an answer to their requests. And while Israel lets a Norwegian minister and members of Parliament wait, the answer to Dagsavisen arrived promptly:
“According to Israeli prison authorities only close relatives are given frequent visiting rights to prisoners.”
Huitfeldt is deeply concerned over Shaheens situation in prison. She expresses this clearly in her letter to the Israeli embassy.
– We are very concerned for his human rights situation, she says.
Hussam Shaheen’s family may visit him in prison twice a year. His sister and mother visited him ten days ago.
– He is not ill, but the conditions under which he in incarcerated are tough, says his sister Nasim Shaheen on telephone from Jerusalem to Dagsavisen.
Friend of AUF(Labor youth wing)
Huitfeldt’s friendship with Hussam Shaheen goes back to the AUF days. Shaheen has several times visited AUF’s summer camp at Utøya and has tied relations to serveral people both in AUF (Labor youth wing) and in Labor (Arbeiderpartiet).
– He is a very strong person who informed on the Israel / Palestine conflict in a very spririted way, says Huitfeldt while she thumbs through pictures of the two on a journey to Jerusalem in 1999, when Huitfeldt was AUF leader.
Shaheen var next in line for the position as leader of Fatah-youth in Palestine when he was arrested in January 2004. In April 2007 he was sentenced by an Israeli military court to serve 23 years in jail for illegal political activity, alledgedly weapons smuggling and planning an attack on a bus.
He has throughout claimed that he is innocent, and his supporters count him as a political prisoner.
– He is a modern politician, concerned with dialogue and a free Palestine, says Huitfeldt.
She stresses that Shaheen was one of the most important supporters of non-violent resistance against the Westbank and Gaza, and central in the dialogue with Israeli youth parties.