PA President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
The Palestinian Authority will not remain silent if any of the striking Palestinian prisoners is harmed, PA President Mahmoud Abbas warned Thursday.
Abbas's warning came during a visit he paid to a tent set up by families of Palestinian prisoners in Al-Bireh in solidarity with their sons.
"The case of the prisoners is not only a political issue," Abbas told the families. "Rather, it is a humanitarian issue. The prisoners are demanding humanitarian treatment."
Abbas said that there would be no solution to the conflict unless Israel released all Palestinian prisoners. "Even if we agree on all the sticking issues, the case of the prisoners will remain the first and that's why it is always on our agenda."
Haniyeh: Mass hunger strike test of Israeli principles
Hamas Prime Minister Haniyeh also spoke of the issue on Thursday, saying the current hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinians in Israeli prisons was a test of Israel's commitment to universal humanitarian principles which must be recognized. He warned that the death of any prisoner would have "negative repercussions", but did not elaborate.
"I do not wish that any prisoner in Israeli jails is martyred and so I demand that they implement international law in respect to the prisoners, who should be regarded as prisoners of war," he said.
Palestinian human rights groups say up to 2,000 Palestinians in Israeli jails have been refusing food since April 17. Two have been on hunger strike for some 70 days and are said to be in serious condition.
"They are simple demands, humanitarian demands, such as ending solitary confinement, family visits, more television channels," the Hamas leader said.
Israel, he said, must keep the promises it made when captive IDF soldier Gilad Schalit was released by Hamas last October after more than five years in confinement, in exchange for the liberation of some 900 Palestinians jailed by Israel.
The Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza, which has often exempted itself from the tacit truce agreements Hamas has made with Israel, has said it will escalate violence if a prisoner dies.
"We had a meeting with the leadership of the Islamic Jihad and they have confirmed that any negative development in the issue of prisoners would be discussed among the national front and in a meeting for factions," Haniyeh said. "They will not take a unilateral action outside of a national consensus."