Conflict & Justice

Israel and Palestine close to deal to end prisoners' hunger strike


Protestors with their hands tied, eyes blindfolded and mouths taped take part in an Arab Jewish demonstration in the city of Jaffa near Tel Aviv on May 12, 2012, against the administrative detention of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.



Egyptian and Palestinian officials say they are close to agreeing a deal with Israel's Prison Service that could end a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.

According to Associated Press, the proposed deal was drafted by Egypt and includes calls to release prisoners from solitary confinement and allow families to leave Gaza to visit their detained relatives.  It says it secured details of the draft from an Egyptian official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

About 1,600 Palestinian prisoners have been staging a hunger strike for the last month, mainly in protest at Israel's policy of "administrative detention", which allows anyone seen to pose a security threat to be held indefinitely without charge.  Two members of the group have been refusing food for 77 days.

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Fatah official Azzam al-Ahmad said "the agreement is in its last stages," The Jerusalem Post reports, but Israeli security officials reportedly stressed that a deal had not yet been reached. 

Sources in the Palestinian Prisoner Association have told Haaretz that details of the agreement will be presented to the prisoners on Monday, and will include "three main clauses relating to administrative detention, solitary confinement and granting visiting permits to families from Gaza."

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Ynet says the head of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Club Kadura Fars has confirmed that the hunger strike will end if the prisoners see that their demands are being met.

In what The Guardian describes as "an unusual intervention", the representative of the Middle East quartet Tony Blair has urged Israel to "take all necessary measures to prevent a tragic outcome that could have serious implications for stability and security conditions on the ground". He said he was "increasingly concerned about the deteriorating health conditions" of hunger strikers, the newspaper says.