Agreement signed to end hunger strike by Palestinians
Palestinian prisoners in Israel and the Israeli Prison Authority on Monday signed an agreement under Egyptian mediation to end the hunger strike of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners, in an unprecedented step that threatened to lead to widespread violence in the occupied territories.
Israel has acceded to the three main strikers' demands: lifting of administrative detention, ending solitary confinement and allowing family visits to prisoners from Gaza, in exchange for a signed commitment to "refrain from any act of terrorism" and any new hunger strike. "All Palestinian factions signed an agreement in Ashkelon prison (southern Israel) to stop the hunger strike," said the president of the Palestinian Prisoners' Club, Qaddoura Fares.
"The main differences were regarding administrative detention, solitary confinement and visits from Gaza," he said, adding that a "senior Egyptian military official had been involved" in negotiations.
A Palestinian source familiar with the matter said on Sunday night that an agreement was concluded in Cairo, saying he had yet to be ratified by the inmates.
At least a third of some 4,700 Palestinian prisoners in Israel (including nearly 310 in administrative detention) were on hunger strike as a result of a collective measure launched on April 17.
The spokesman for the Israeli Prison Authority, Sivan Weizman, confirmed the conclusion of an agreement " as a result of negotiations made in recent days."
The internal security service, Shin Bet, said in a statement that "all administrative detainees stopped their hunger strike." "All administrative detainees will be released at the end of their period of detention, unless new evidence is presented against them," the statement said.
Delegates of the prisoners signed a pledge to "refrain from any activity constituting an effective support to terrorism," including financing operations.
"In response to the request by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Israel has negotiated to stop the hunger strike," the spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Mark Regev, said. "Hopefully this action will serve to build trust between the parties and lead to peace. "
The fate of prisoners has dominated the meeting Saturday night between the Palestinian President and Yitzhak Molcho, the personal emissary of Netanyahu. Abbas warned Sunday against "a huge disaster" if one of the hunger strikers dies.
A leader of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), Hanan Ashrawi, praised "the victory of the hunger strikers" in a statement, saying it showed that "nonviolent resistance is an essential tool in our struggle for freedom."