No talks with Palestinian inmates on hunger strike

The Palestinian Authority's newly appointed envoy to Washington, Husam Zomlot, spoke on Tuesday with a senior official in the U.S. State Department about the hunger strike announced by thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.

Qaddura Fares, head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club which tracks the well-being of Palestinians in Israeli jails, said Barghouti had been placed in solitary confinement, but Librati did not confirm that.

"Marwan Barghouti is a Palestinian leader and parliamentarian", reads the author description underneath the article "Why We Are on Hunger Strike in Israel's Prisons".

"The Israeli government will be responsible for any and all of the consequences of this hunger strike - if a prisoner dies, or becomes extremely ill, they are the ones that will have to handle the outcome".

According to a report released by three Palestinian non-governmental organizations, a total of 6,500 Palestinians, including women, children and lawmakers, are being held in prisons and detention facilities across the occupied territories. Israeli side will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of its occupation in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem in June 2017.

"These are terrorists and incarcerated murderers who are getting exactly what the global law requires", he told Israel's Army Radio, adding that under the ministry's policy, "you can't negotiate with prisoners such as these". They demand better conditions, including stopping the administrative detentions, an indefinable incarceration without charges for renewable periods of six months.

Jailed Fatah leader Barghouti, who was sentenced to five life sentences for five murders plus 40 years for attempted murder, is believed to be one of the hunger strike leaders.

The strike could also heighten Israeli-Palestinian tensions at a time of renewed US attempts to restart stalled peace negotiations.

The hunger strike was launched as the approaching half-century mark of Israeli rule over Palestinians appeared to generate renewed interest in the long-running conflict, which in recent years was often overshadowed by war and turmoil elsewhere in the region. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis and other offences. They are convicted terrorists and murderers.

If the reasoning for the hunger strike was not obvious - the mistreatment and torture in Israeli jails has been well documented - it was spelled out by Marwan Barghouti in a New York Times opinion column on Sunday.

He is popular among Palestinians, with polls suggesting he could win the Palestinian presidency. The Israeli prison service on Monday put that number at about 1,100.

"It is to be emphasised that the (prison service) does not negotiate with prisoners".

  • Elsie Buchanan