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Israeli-Palestinian coordination ends prisoners’ strike

Coordination of positions between Israel and the team of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas brought about the end of the prisoners’ hunger strike.
Palestinians celebrate after Palestinian prisoners ended a hunger strike over their conditions in Israeli jails, in the West Bank city of Ramallah May 27, 2017. REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman - RTX37U52
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At 4 a.m. May 27 — some 90 minutes before the start of the monthlong Ramadan fast — the hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails came to an end exactly 40 days after it was declared. Only around 1,300 of some 6,200 Palestinians jailed in Israel went on strike, and according to data compiled by the Israel Prisoner Service (IPS), about half of them resumed eating even before the strike ended. Israel was encouraged by the fact that senior Fatah member Marwan Barghouti and other leaders of the Palestinian prison population had failed to generate a widespread protest. The Palestinian Authority’s Prisoners Club rejected the Israeli figures, calling them disinformation designed to belittle the strikers and hurt the instigators. But even if the numbers are exaggerated, there’s no doubt that Israel and the PA took the hunger strike seriously, viewing it as a common threat that required cooperation in order to minimize its damage.

As previously reported by Al-Monitor, the mass fast was a major headache for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Not only was the timing bad — as he was making great efforts at rapprochement with the Donald Trump administration — it also threatened to help elements in the West Bank take advantage of the strike for domestic political ends. For example, supporters of Barghouti, who is serving five life terms in an Israeli prison, declared several “days of rage” and called on Palestinians to clash with Israeli forces — calls that displeased Palestinian leadership in Ramallah. Israel and the PA quickly realized that they have to join together to bring the strike to an end.

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