#PalHunger | US silent on Palestinian hunger strikers in pursuit of votes

US presidential candidates Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have been silent about Palestinian hunger strikers as they depend on the votes of 70 million Americans who support Israel, an analyst says.

Press TV | May 12, 2012



The comment comes as Israel’s Supreme Court has turned down an appeal requesting the release of two Palestinian prisoners, who have been on hunger strike for more than two months.

According to their lawyer, judges on Monday May 7 ruled that their hunger strike was not a reason to release them from administrative detention despite their being in life-threatening condition.

Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla began refusing food on February 29 in protest to their administrative detention, a controversial practice used by Tel Aviv, which allows Israeli authorities to hold people, mostly the Palestinians, without charge or trial indefinitely.

Diab has been in custody for nine months while Halahla has been detained in June 2010.

An estimated 1,600 to 2,000 Palestinian prisoners have begun an open-ended hunger strike on April 17 to protest against Israel’s administrative detention rules, the use of solitary confinement, maltreatment of sick detainees, and difficulty in securing family visits and strip searches that are imposed on visitors.

Press TV has conducted an interview with journalist Carel Gould to further discuss the issue. The video also offers the opinions of two additional guests: Essam Younes, director of al-Mizan Center for Human Rights and Mohsen Saleh, from the Zaytuna Center for Studies.

The following is a rough transcription of the interview.

Press TV: Let me ask Ms. Gould about the issue of administrative detention. Israel upholds British colonial law which existed back then that they have the right to detain the Palestinians without trial or charge. Why does Israel keep this law specifically against the Palestinians?

Gould: Yes, you refer to a very very old law which goes back to the time of the mandate which was actually used against the Jewish settlers, against the Jews who were trying to make a home in Israel.

And the British authorities cracked down on Jewish settlers many, many times using the facility of administrative detention, eventually this led to the bombing of the King David Hotel although there were many other reasons for that.

I think it is a great tragedy that earlier this week Benjamin Netanyahu called “elections” as with- in any democracy- I put that in quotes and suddenly yesterday he announced there isn’t going to be an election and he has formed a coalition with Shaul Mofaz, the former defense minister and there won’t be elections until the end of 2013.

This is the action of someone who has no interest in democracy. I have said whenever I’ve been on these programs on Press TV and in other places that Israel has the most right-wing government that it has ever had in its history.

It’s even more right-wing than the government of (former Israeli Prime Minister) Ariel Sharon who after all cleared the Jewish settlers out of Gaza but now that we have the Netanyahu government in place with no possibility of the Left or Labor or any Liberal group within Israel to have a voice, I don’t see us having any end to the Administrative detention.

There are human rights groups in Israel, including Israeli human rights groups like B’Tselem and of course the international community of the Red Cross who are insisting that this administrative detention be ended and in fact even justices [Elyakim] Rubenstein, [Noam] Sohlberg and [Yoram] Danziger who are the three justices who said that these prisoners may not be released have said that the governor has to reform the whole system because these prisoners are not even being allowed someone to visit them, to talk to them about the adjudication.

The Israeli government is using the excuse that it’s a violation of National Security for these issues to be discussed but these issues can’t be discussed in camera, they can be discussed in private but at least give the prisoners a chance to have a voice and for them to be represented.

I am afraid that this is a situation that is just as bad as what many people describe at Guantanamo Bay, the United States detains people for 8 to 10 years- 10, 12 years in Guantanamo Bay without a proper trial. So I’m afraid that Israel and the United States do not come out looking very well in this situation.

Press TV: Ms. Gould, tell us what you think about this, many believe that Israel feels that it is immune of any international condemnation especially in the United Nations Security Council and therefore has no problem and will not stop any of its policies.

Gould: The pressure from the international community including Mahmud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority putting pressure on the UN to condemn administrative detention and to condemn the fact that the West does not seem to be doing anything about these prisoners and their conditions- this is true that you get to the Security Council and there is a certain set of nations that will always support Israel and will not support a resolution.

What I find interesting of being American is that Barack Obama has been completely silent about this issue. When you think that there are an estimated 1600 prisoners in one stage or other … Mr. [Thaer] Halahlah has been taken to an Israeli hospital and Mr. [Bilal] Diab has also been on hunger strike for a long time.

There is a presidential campaign going on and what both candidates Romney and Obama are depending on are 70 million Evangelical Christians who support Israel. Forget about the Jewish lobby, there are 6 million Jews in the United States.

Six million Jews in the United States have no effect on the election- they are insignificant but 70 million Evangelical Christians who support Israel are the ones that a presidential candidate needs in order to be reelected and this is why both candidates are keeping quiet on this issue.

Also if any country were to say to Obama why aren’t you doing anything about the Palestinians, what can he say? The United States still has a large group of prisoners in Guantanamo Bay who have been there from between eight to 11 years and some of them have yet to be tried so he hasn’t got much to answer for.

The Guantanamo Bay situation goes back to the time of Bush in terms of international condemnation I would agree that there really hasn’t been much and it’s not going to get very far in the United Nations.

VG/PKH

See video report at PressTV



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