Mahmoud Abbas
Mahmoud Abbas Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

Palestinian Authority (PA) chairman Mahmoud Abbas said Thursday that he had asked the United States to help end a weeks-long hunger strike by terrorists held in Israeli jails.

Hundreds of terrorists in Israeli jails began a hunger strike on April 17 in an attempt to pressure Israel to improve the conditions of their imprisonment.

Among their demands, as published this week, is access to no less than 20 television channels, the introduction of books, magazines and newspapers into the prison without proscribed limits, and a later time for lights out in the prisons.

Speaking to senior members of his Fatah party in Ramallah after meeting President Donald Trump's special representative Jason Greenblatt, Abbas said on Thursday he had spelt out his position to the envoy who would convey it to the Israelis.

"We have explained in detail to American envoy Jason Greenblatt the issue of the prisoner strike and we have called for American intervention to ensure that the rights of prisoners are protected and their humanitarian demands are granted," he said, according to AFP.

"We shall be in touch with him to give us the answer of the Israeli side," he said, adding he hoped to announce a response "in the evening or tomorrow".

The PA official in charge of prisoner affairs said last week that Abbas is trying to apply pressure through international sources to put an end to the ongoing hunger strike.

Greenblatt is in the region to follow up on Trump's visit earlier in the week and to build on his plans for a new Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.

Meanwhile, reported AFP, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Thursday that its doctors who have been visiting the prisoners were concerned about "potential irreversible health consequences".

"From a medical standpoint, we are entering a critical phase," it added, urging the authorities on both sides to find a solution to the standoff.

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