Hunger strikers weigh deal with Israel
Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails are weighing a deal.
RAMALLAH - Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike in Israeli jails are weighing a package of measures easing their conditions in exchange for ending their protest, a source told AFP on Monday.
"The prisoners are looking at the deal that was agreed in Cairo, only the prisoners can decide," said a Palestinian source close to the Egyptian-brokered negotiations with Israel.
"It's the leaders of the prisoners who have the key, to say yes or no."
Some 1,550 Palestinian prisoners are currently on hunger strike, including two detainees who on Monday entered their 76th day without food.
They are calling on Israel to ease restrictions on family visits and prisoner education and to end solitary confinement and the use of administrative detention -- under which individuals can be held indefinitely without charge.
Late on Sunday, a source confirmed to AFP that a package of measures responding to those demands had been hammered out in Cairo.
"A deal on the question of the prisoners was agreed in Cairo, but it has to be approved by the detainees," the source said, without providing details of the agreement.
"We are waiting for the prison administration to assemble the prisoners' representatives tomorrow (Monday) to present them with the accord."
Israel Prisons Service spokeswoman Sivan Weizman declined to confirm a deal had been reached, and a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to comment on the matter.
An Israeli official cited by Israeli public radio on Sunday night said the deal would allow Gaza-based relatives to visit prisoners and would offer some concessions on solitary confinement, possibly moving certain detainees back into the general population.
The mass hunger strike has widespread Palestinian support, with activists holding daily demonstrations of solidarity across Gaza and the West Bank.
Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas on Sunday warned of a "national disaster" if any of the hunger strikers died and said they were simply demanding "justice."
"These prisoners have a right to justice, and we are talking about the conditions of detention and the prison conditions that Israel is trying to ignore," he said ahead of a Palestine Liberation Organisation meeting.
"The issue of the prisoners is the most important issue we're working on these days."