Abbas Discusses Palestinian Prisoner Hunger Strike With Trump Envoy

Palestinian president meets with Jason Greenblatt, requests that the White House intervene in ongoing strike amid reports of inmates' deteriorating health

US President's envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt meets with Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah on May 25, 2017.
ABBAS MOMANI/AFP

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas requested Thursday that the White House intervene in the ongoing Palestinian prisoner's hunger strike during a meeting with U.S. special envoy to the region Jason Greenblatt in Ramallah.

Speaking at the presidential headquarters after the meeting, Abbas said that the issue of the prisoners was discussed in depth “to see what the American side can do on the matter.”

He said that "the issue of the prisoners is a sensitive and difficult one, and we want the Americans to intervene so that we can receive answers from the Israelis regarding their commitment to comply with the prisoners' demands, which there is no reason to refuse as they are legitimate and humane."

According to a senior Palestinian official, Greenblatt is expected to meet with Netanyahu over the next 24 hours, and to relay their position to the Palestinians with an aim to end the strike, which has now lasted for 38 days.

"This is a very sensitive issue and the Americans understand what its implications are on the ground - if the strike were to lead to the death of prisoners or aggravate tensions - we made it crystal clear to Greenblatt that this issue is at the top of the Palestinian public agenda." the official said.

According to representatives of the strikers, the medical condition of dozens of hunger-striking Palestinian prisoners is deteriorating and many more prisoners have been hospitalized over the past two days.

Some 40 prisoners had been moved from the Ohalei Kedar Prison to hospitals around the country, and 20 have been taken from Hadarim Prison to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava, a Palestinian Prisoners’ Administration statement said.

The prisoners’ two primary demands are for more frequent family visits and for prisoners to be allowed to speak to their families on public phones under supervision.