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Concession to PA Prisoners A 'Gesture' to Abbas

The deal that ended the hunger strike by Palestinian Authority prisoners is a “gesture” to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the PMO says.
By Chana Ya'ar
First Publish: 5/14/2012, 10:04 PM

PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
PM Binyamin Netanyahu, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas / archive
Israel news photo: Flash 90

The deal that ended the hunger strike by hundreds of Palestinian Authority prisoners in Israel is a goodwill gesture to PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Prime Minister's Office says.

Speaking for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, spokesman Mark Regev on Monday night called the deal brokered by Egyptian mediators a confidence-building gesture.

The hunger strike by some 1,600 PA Arab prisoners in Israeli jails had lasted more than 40 days – and in the case of a few prisoners, past 70 days.

Israeli security officials and representatives of PA terrorist organizations agreed to the deal after a meeting Monday at a prison in Ashkelon – and, said Regev, a request from Abbas.

The request was one among a list of other issues that were sent to Netanyahu in an exchange of letters between the two leaders over the weekend.

"It is our hope that this gesture by Israel will serve to build confidence between the parties and advance peace,” Regev said. 

A second issue discussed between the two men was the transfer of 100 bodies of PA Arab terrorists currently buried in Israel. 

Netanyahu envoy Yitzchak Molcho conveyed a request by Abbas Saturday night to have the bodies transferred from Israel to Ramallah for interment in PA-controlled territory.

On Monday evening, the Netanyahu administration instructed security officials to prepare to transfer the bodies to the PA in another apparent gesture of conciliation to Abbas.