Palestinian prisoners' hunger strike ends after marathon negotiations

A man works at the Rafah water waste treatment plant in the southern Gaza Strip

He said "This is the time to illustrate to Israelis, to the Palestinians and to the world that a large portion of the Israeli public opposes the occupation and seeks to arrive at a two state solution".

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas had urged U.S. counterpart Donald Trump to raise the issue with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during his visit to the region earlier this week. It was the International Committee of the Red Cross that stopped the visits a year ago, because family members were not showing up and the group was running out of funds.

Nicole Englander said the prisoners declared an end to the strike Saturday morning. Many have been convicted of attacks against Israelis and other offences.

The only person to speak to the prisoners on behalf of Israel was Yuval Biton, the head of the Prisons Service Intelligence Division, who relayed the Shin Bet's approval for the additional monthly visit. The agreement came after a marathon of negotiations between all parties.

The Free Marwan Barghouti campaign said in statement that "the Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike prevailed". Barghouti's lawyer was finally allowed to meet him a month after the strike started. A death among the protesting prisoners was likely to have fanned demonstrations and risked turmoil with Israeli forces in the West Bank.

"How long do you think they can survive if this is further reduced to two hours of electricity per day?" he added. This would have rapidly exacerbated their condition.

Opinion polls have, however, repeatedly showed that many Palestinians would like Barghouti to be their next president and analysts believe the deal will improve his position in Palestinian politics.

In particular, the prisoners demanded ending solitary confinement and detention without trial and the right for more family visits.

The hunger strike began on April 17, which is knows as Palestinian Prisoners' Day.

Israel said the number was closer to 800.

Marwan Barghouti, a high-profile prisoner who enjoys broad support among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, called for the "Freedom and Dignity" strike.

The ICRC also says it "is in regular contact with the relatives of detainees on hunger strike and is a direct witness of their anxiety, which continues to mount in the absence of family visits".

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