Coalition Reaches Compromise on Modified Force-feeding Bill

New version would allow force-feeding only in cases where a doctor determines there is a clear danger to the prisoner’s life.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Palestinian schoolgirls during a rally near Jenin for Palestinian prisoners in 2012.
Palestinian schoolgirls during a rally near Jenin for Palestinian prisoners in 2012.Credit: AP
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Yesh Atid will support a more limited version of the controversial law allowing force-feeding of hunger-striking prisoners, paving the way for the bill’s passage in the Knesset next Monday. Yesh Atid will vote in favor of the proposed law in its second and third readings after a number of changes were agreed to. The party’s most important demand, to delay the implementation of the law for six months so that it would not apply to the prisoners now on a hunger strike, was not accepted.

The main change in the final version of the bill to be presented to the Knesset is the determination of when a prisoner may be force fed. In the new version, force-feeding will be allowed only in cases where a doctor is of the opinion that without the treatment “there is a real possibility that within a short period of time risk to the life of the prisoner or serious irreversible disability will occur.”

The Knesset Interior and Environment Committee is expected to renew discussion on the bill on Wednesday to finish preparing it for next week’s vote.

The proposed law — both in its new version and the previous one — requires the Israel Prisons Service to request permission from the president of a District Court, or his deputy, in order to force-feed a hunger-striking prisoner. But the new version of this section may still arouse opposition in the committee. The proposed change states that until the court makes a decision on the force-feeding request, the Patient’s Rights Law will apply. The Patient’s Rights Law lists a number of situations in which a patient’s doctor can provide life-saving medical treatment — including force-feeding — even without the patient’s approval.

MK Yifat Kariv (Yesh Atid), who led the party’s opposition to the original version of the law, said the compromise reached was a significant achievement.

Officials in the Prime Minister’s Bureau scoffed at Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid’s efforts to delay the passage of the law this week, predicting that Lapid would ultimately fold and support the bill.

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