The Knesset is to vote as planned on a bill allowing hunger-striking prisoners to be force-fed, despite the end of the most recent hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners.
“This bill is a deterrent,” Knesset Interior Committee chairwoman Miri Regev said Wednesday. “Prison walls don’t mean an action is not terrorism. There is terrorism on the streets and this [hunger strike] is terrorism in prison.”
At the same time, Regev expressed hesitations about the merit of the bill to be put to a vote on Monday, suggesting that, rather than force feed prisoners, they should be allowed to starve to death.
“When a person goes on hunger strike, he’s aware that he’s risking his life,” the Likud Beytenu MK told Army Radio.
Hours before the hunger strike came to an end, Regev came to a compromise with Yesh Atid faction chairman Ofer Shelah, whose party threatened to vote against the bill.
The compromise came two days after the vote on the bill was delayed for a week because of Yesh Atid’s opposition.
Regev agreed to all of Yesh Atid’s suggestions to soften the bill, addended by MK Yifat Kariv, except for delaying the date on which it would go into effect by six months.
Some of the changes include making clear that force-feeding can only take place when there is an imminent danger to a prisoner’s life, allowing a prisoner to present his case against force-feeding and for hunger- striking before a judge, and not requiring doctors who oppose force-feeding prisoners to do so.
“I am happy that I succeeded, together with the members of my faction, to stop the hasty legislation of the bill in an hour-and-ahalf, which is not appropriate in a democratic country,” Kariv said. “This bill became proportionate and worthy and will only be used in extreme cases.”
Regev, however, was less impressed, saying that none of the changes were significant.
“It was important for Yesh Atid to sharpen a few points that were in the bill in the first place, and I didn’t see a problem with allowing it.
I’m happy Yesh Atid now supports the bill,” she stated.
Similarly, MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) told Army Radio that Yesh Atid’s changes are “cosmetic” and the party gave up on its opposition to the bill too easily.
“This is still force-feeding and the fact that they massaged a few of the articles of the bill doesn’t change the fact that it allows force-feeding for political reasons. This law cannot be allowed to pass,” she said.