Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Thursday asked Tony Blair, the Quartet Middle East envoy, to intervene on behalf of Palestinian prisoners, the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency reported.
Ma'an quotes PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat as saying he conveyed Abbas's message to Blair.
According to the report, Abbas demanded the release of all Palestinian prisoners held in Israel, particularly those held without charge and prisoners arrested before 1994.
He also requested that Israel lift restrictions on education and family visits imposed on prisoners.
On Wednesday, UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk spoke in support of the 1,550
Palestinian prisoners who have been on a hunger strike since April 17.
a statement he issued to the media from Geneva, he said he was appalled by human
rights violations against Palestinians in Israeli prisons.
Falk, who is
tasked with investigating the situation of human rights under Israeli military
rule in the West Bank, said the hunger strike was an act of collective
nonviolent resistance against Israeli “occupation.” The prisoners, he said, were
also protesting unjust arrest procedures, arbitrary detention and bad prison
“I urge the government of Israel to respect its international
human rights obligations towards all Palestinian prisoners,” Falk
Since the Six Day War in 1967, 750,000 Palestinians, or 20 percent
of West Bank Palestinians and 40% of male Palestinians in that area, have spent
time in jail, he said.
Although the 1,550 hunger-strikers are not
administrative detainees, Falk also slammed Israel for holding Palestinians
without leveling charges against them.
“Israel’s wide use of
administrative detention flies in the face of international fair trial
standards,” he said. “Detainees must be able to effectively challenge
administrative detention orders, including by ensuring that lawyers have full
access to the evidence on which the order was issued.”
He said that
Israel has some 300 Palestinians in administrative detention.
administrative detainees are also on a hunger strike. According to Physicians
for Human Rights in Israel, two of them are entering their 65th
Palestinian activists have rallied around the cause of the hunger
strikers, holding protests Tuesday and Wednesday in Betunia, on the outskirts of
Ramallah, not far from Ofer Prison.
Tovah Lazaroff contributed to this report.