Palestinians, Israelis in Advanced Talks Over Ending Detainee's Hunger Strike

Jack Khoury
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Mohammed al-Qiq in the hospital.
Mohammed al-Qiq in the hospital. Credit: AP
Jack Khoury

Palestinian and Israeli officials are in advanced stages of talks over a compromise meant to end the hunger strike of a Palestinian detained in Israel.

Mohammed al-Qiq, a 33-year-old journalist from Ramallah, has been on a hunger strike for the past 87 days in protest against his detention without trial. He was arrested by Israeli security forces on November 21 in connection with alleged involvement in terror activities.

The impending deal stipulates that Qiq, who is hospitalized in the northern Israeli city of Afula, is to be transferred to Al-Makassed hospital in East Jerusalem, where he will end his hunger strike. At this stage it is unclear whether Israel is prepared not to renew Qiq's detention after his health improves. Sources told Haaretz that an agreement isn't expected to be reached before Saturday evening.

The High Court suspended Qiq's detention earlier this month due to his medical condition. He isn't consuming anything but tap water, and has refused to receive essential minerals. He is conscious but isn't communicating. According to sources in the hospital, he is lucid, but his body is growing weaker. The doctors intend to take life-saving measures if his condition deteriorates drastically.

The impending agreement is similar to the one offered to Qiq on Monday by the High Court of Justice. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein denied a request by Qiq's attorneys to transfer the hunger striker to Ramallah, saying that a hospital in East Jerusalem is the only option. Qiq rejected the deal because Israel refused to promise not to re-arrest him after he recuperates.

The agreement, if finalized, is expected resemble the one reached between Israel and another Palestinian administrative detainee, Mohammed Alan. As per the deal, the state won't renew his detention unless new evidence warrants it. 

Prior to his arrest, Qiq was often interviewed by media outlets affiliated with Hamas, and is considered very critical of the Palestinian Authority. During the period before his arrest, he wrote articles criticizing the PA and its security services for the arrest of political activists in the West Bank. In an article that appeared in a London-based Arabic newspaper in October, he called those claiming that the Palestinian people were weary of violence and bloodshed “liars” who were trying to undermine the intifada.