Israel has told the European Union and the United Nations that it can deport a terrorist who has been on a long-term hunger strike to one of their member states, an Israeli official told AFP on Friday.
A lawyer for Samer Issawi, who has intermittently refused food for more than eight months, said however that his client strongly rejected the Israeli initiative, and an EU spokesman said no "official" proposal had been received.
Issawi was jailed for violating the terms of his 2011 release. He had been released as part of the Shalit deal after serving just nine years of a 26-year term for attempted murder.
Israel has ordered that he serve the remainder of his original sentence.
Issawi's health has deteriorated because of his prolonged fast, and he was being held in an Israeli hospital. The Israeli official said he could "immediately be released to Gaza," according to AFP.
In addition, "over the last few weeks the prime minister's office was approached by senior EU and UN representatives, who expressed concern over his humanitarian condition," the official said.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's office said Israel was willing to deport Issawi "to any EU member country, or any UN member country," said the official, noting that they had yet to receive an answer from either.
An EU spokesman told AFP that "Israel has not formally approached the EU on this subject."
However, the Israeli official insisted the issue "came up in official communications between officials on both sides."
Lawyer Jawad Boulos told the news agency that while "Israel had tried to make him agree to being deported" to any of a number of countries, including Egypt, Jordan, Turkey, Finland and Switzerland, Issawi had "strongly refused in principle to be deported to any state."
Issawi is the last of four Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist prisoners who were on extended hunger strikes in Israeli prisons, after two ended their fast in February and a third was exiled to Gaza for 10 years.
Palestinian Authority Arab terrorist prisoners have turned hunger striking into a pressure tactic aimed at forcing Israel to release them out of fear for their lives. Israel has several times in the past caved to the pressure and released some hunger strikers.
On February 28, Jaafar Ezzeddine and Tariq Qaadan, ended their three-month hunger strike after refusing food for three months, pending a hearing on their case.
Hamas’s Prime Minister in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, has urged PA Arabs to continue what he termed the “prisoners' intifada” to support terrorist detainees in Israeli jails.
(Arutz Sheva’s North American Desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)