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Egypt Confirms Hunger Strikers Deal, Israel Still Mum

Egyptian official says Israel has agreed to a proposal that would end a mass hunger strike by PA Arabs in Israeli jails.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 5/14/2012, 5:12 AM

Security prisoners
Security prisoners
Flash 90

An Egyptian official said on Sunday night that Israel has agreed to a proposal that would end a mass hunger strike by Palestinian Authority Arabs in Israeli jails.

The official told The Associated Press that the Egyptian-drafted proposal still needs to be approved by the prisoners.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told AP that the proposal calls for Israel to move prisoners currently held in solitary confinement to regular cells, and allow families from Hamas-ruled Gaza to visit imprisoned relatives.

The proposal also calls for Israel to ease its “administrative detention” policy, under which some prisoners deemed a security risk can be held indefinitely without charge. Under the draft agreement, that policy would be changed and prisoners will be either charged or released after they are detained.

Some 1,600 terrorist prisoners launched a mass hunger strike on April 17, in protest of their being in administrative detention. Two of the prisoners, both active members of the Islamic Jihad terror organization, have been fasting for more than 70 days. One received medical care in a hospital and was returned to prison. The Supreme Court last week rejected an appeal by both to be set free.

In a tactic for United Nations sympathy, the PA has said that the prisoners' hunger strike is a humanitarian disaster. Hamas has threatened Israel with increased violence if a hunger strike prisoner dies.

A Palestinian Authority-based lawyer representing the prisoners confirmed the details of the proposal, and told AP Egyptian officials had presented it to the Israelis.

Taher Nunu, the spokesman for the Hamas government in Gaza, told AP Egyptian mediation efforts were under way, and that he hoped "for an answer within hours" from the prisoners to the proposal.

Israeli officials would not comment, but an earlier report on Israel’s Channel 2 News said that Israel had reached a deal with Hamas, according to which some of the prisoners will be released, and others will enjoy better conditions.

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) condemned the agreement. “Netanyahu’s ‘just talk’ government has folded yet again instead of striking with an iron fist,” he said.

“It turns out that baby killers will keep living the high life in Bibi’s rest center,” Ben-Ari added.