(photo credit: REUTERS)
A top United Nations official warned Israel on Wednesday that passing legislation to force-feed hunger-striking prisoners if their lives are in danger would constitute “a contravention of international standards.”
During an appearance before the Security Council, Jeffrey Feltman, the UN under-secretary-general for political affairs, expressed concern over Israel’s policy of administrative detentions of West Bank Palestinians as well as recent moves by the government to put in motion legislation that would permit authorities to force-feed prisoners.
Feltman specifically referenced the case of Khader Adnan, the Palestinian prisoner currently in administrative detention. For the past 50 days, Adnan has been on a hunger strike, with some reports in Palestinian media indicating that his life is in danger.
The bill will still need to be brought to the Knesset and pass first and second readings to go into law.
Proposed by Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan, it is titled the “Prevention of Damage by Hunger Strikers” bill and is a continuation of sorts of a bill that passed its first reading in the Knesset last summer.
According to Erdan’s parliamentary aide, the current bill is basically the same as the previous one, except that in the current version a doctor cannot be required to apply the force-feeding, and only a judge who is a district court president or deputy president can approve the measure. The judge will be required to consult with an ethics committee before issuing his decision.
The bill also stipulates that authorities must have exhausted efforts to convince the prisoner to end his hunger strike and the prisoner must have been made aware of the health dangers of continuing his protest.
The Red Cross on Tuesday told Palestinian media outlets that Adnan’s life was “at immediate risk.” The organization called on Israel to permit his relatives to visit him in detention.
Adnan has been arrested on numerous occasions due to his activities on behalf of the Islamic Jihad organization.