Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced Tuesday that the Palestinians were expecting an international inquiry into the "assassination" of Palestinian detainee Arafat Jaradat in Israeli prison last weekend.

"Palestine has officially requested an international commission of inquiry into the death of Jaradat," Abbas declared.

Abbas told members of the PLO Executive Committee during a meeting in Ramallah that a Palestinian forensic expert had already determined that Jaradat died as a realist of torture.

"Now we are waiting for an international commission of inquiry to find out how Jaradat was assassinated in prison," he said.

Abbas said that the Palestinians were facing an "unprecedented Israeli escalation targeting teenagers and children protesting against practices of the occupation and settlers, especially against Palestinian detainees."

Abbas condemned Israel for rearresting Palestinians who had been released in exchange for IDF soldier Gilad Schalit. "We don't know what are the dangerous security offenses they committed to be returned to prison," he added.

Abbas said that the current protests in the West Bank were in response to Israeli "assaults" on youths and the continued imprisonment of Palestinians.

The Palestinians, he emphasized, were not interested in a further escalation of tensions. "We want to reach a peaceful settlement based on international legitimacy," Abbas continued. "We want an end to occupation of the land of the occupied state of Palestine."

Following the meeting in Ramallah, the PLO Executive Committee appealed to Palestinians to avoid being dragged by Israel into a confrontation. The committee urged Palestinians to support the struggle of hunger-strikers in Israeli prisons.

Referring to the death of Jaradat, the committee reiterated the charge that he had died of torture while being held in Israeli custody.

PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abed Rabbo also called for a UN-led inquiry into the death of Jaradat.

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