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Palestinian president wants US to mediate hunger strike

Middle East News
Thu, 25 May 2017

Ramallah, Palestinian Territories: Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas said on Thursday he has asked the United States to mediate on a standoff between Israeli authorities and Palestinian prisoners on a weeks-long hunger strike.

Speaking to senior members of his Fatah party in Ramallah after meeting President Donald Trump's special representative Jason Greenblatt, Abbas said he had spelt out his position to the visitor who would convey it to the Israelis.

"We have explained in detail to American envoy Jason Greenblatt the issue of the prisoner strike and we have called for American intervention to ensure that the rights of prisoners are protected and their humanitarian demands are granted," he said.

"We shall be in touch with him to give us the answer of the Israeli side," he said, adding he hoped to announce a response "in the evening or tomorrow".

Greenblatt is in Israel and the Palestinian territories to follow up on Trump's visit earlier in the week and to build on his plans for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative, according to Israeli media.

The hunger strike, which began on April 17, is being led by prominent Fatah figure Marwan Barghouti.

Barghouti is serving five life sentences for murders committed during the second Palestinian intifada, or uprising.

Hundreds of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have been refusing food over conditions for about 6,500 Palestinian inmates.

Among their demands are access to telephones, more family visits, improved medical care and an end to punitive solitary confinement.

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