Deal reached with Israel over Palestinian hunger strike

By Jennifer Lipman, May 14, 2012

A deal has been reached between the Palestinian prisoners engaged in a hunger strike and the Israeli authorities, according to a Palestinian official.

Some 1,600 prisoners, many detained for terrorism or crimes against civilians, have been on hunger strike for four weeks to protest alleged solitary confinement, poor prison conditions and detention without trial.

After lengthy negotiations the Palestinian Minister for Prisoner Affairs said that a deal had been signed and that the strikers, including a few said to be in critical condition after refusing food or drink for 77 days, would end their protest.

Israeli officials have so far not commented on the details of the agreement but according to the Jerusalem Post the deal was formulated by Egyptian negotiators and was signed by Shin Bet officials and leading members of Palestinian terrorist groups.

The terms of the deal are understood to involve a commitment on behalf of the prisoners "to absolutely stop terror activity from inside Israeli jails". A Palestinian official told AP that, in return, Israel has agreed to stop placing security prisoners in solitary confinement, allow them to contact relatives by telephone and offer them the chance to undertake academic studies.

The pledge reportedly stated that if prisoners carried out "activities against security…from inside the prisons or renew[ed] the hunger strike" Israel would be obliged to cancel its commitment to ease restrictions.

Last updated: 5:41pm, May 14 2012