Abbas "undermined hunger strike" by receiving Israeli negotiator
Published Sunday, May 13, 2012
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was accused on Sunday of undermining an ongoing hunger strike in Israeli jails, after his representatives met with Israel's chief negotiator.
Yitzhak Molcho visited Abbas' office in Ramallah to deliver a letter from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday night.
Activists condemned the move, which comes amid an hunger strike by over 2,000 Palestinians prisoners in Israeli jails over the continued abuses of power by Israeli forces.
The Palestinians for Dignity group condemned Abbas for permitting Molcho's visit and called on him to end all negotiations with the "apartheid" Israeli regime.
"This visit coincides with the ongoing open-ended hunger strike waged by Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli prisons for 27 consecutive days, in a crucial and strategic battle in which the role of the prisoners’ movement in the Palestinian national struggle is being restored," a statement from the group said.
"Rather than boycott and isolate the Israeli apartheid regime for its unrelenting crimes against our people, and foremost against our prisoners, the Palestinian political establishment decided to receive and honor the representative of the Israeli apartheid regime, the same regime our prisoners are fighting against, as if the crimes committed against our prisoners are perpetrated by someone else," it said.
The letter was in answer to a mid-April message from Abbas to Netanyahu in which he aired his grievances over the stalled negotiations.
On April 17, Abbas sent Netanyahu a letter that his negotiator Nabil Shaath said was meant to challenge the Israeli leader over the collapse of the peace process and "put Mr Netanyahu on the spot."
However he has been criticized for the date of the letter, which coincided with Palestinian Prisoners' Day, which this year was recognized by the beginning of the mass hunger strike.
The ongoing strike aims to highlight abuses in Israeli prisons, as well as shed light upon the widespread use of so-called administrative detention – which enables Israel to detain Palestinians without trial effectively indefinitely.
In the original letter, Abbas asked Israel to outline "as soon as possible" its positions on four key issues: the principle of a two-state solution based on pre-1967 lines, halting settlement activity, releasing all Palestinian prisoners and revoking all decisions that undermine bilateral agreements since 2000.
While the contents of the reply letter have not been made public, Israel is demanding negotiations without preconditions and has offered no serious concessions.
The Jewish state continues to occupy the West Bank and maintains a siege of Gaza.