New York

19 February 2013

Statement attributable to the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General on Palestinian prisoners on hunger strike

The Secretary-General is deeply concerned over the rapidly deteriorating condition of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli custody who are on hunger strike, in particular the critical health condition of one Palestinian detainee, Samer Issawi.  The Secretary-General received a letter from Palestinian President Abbas as well as from the Secretary-General of the League of Arab States on this subject.  He has also expressed his concerns to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in their recent telephoneconversation.  Of particular concern are the detainees held in administrative detention without charges.  Those detained should be charged and face trial with judicial guarantees in accordance with international standards, or be promptly released.

The Secretary-General urges for a solution to be reached without delay in order to resolve the prisoners' plight and preserve calm.  He recalls the importance of full adherence by all sides to the 14 May 2012 agreement in this regard, including the implementation of prisoners’ family visiting rights.  International human rights obligations towards all Palestinian detainees and prisoners under Israeli custody must be fully respected.

The United Nations is closely following the situation on the ground.  Deputy Special Coordinator and Humanitarian Coordinator James W. Rawley met last week in Ramallah with the Palestinian Minister of Prisoner and Detainee Affairs and with representatives of the families of the detainees today.  The United Nations will remain engaged with relevant authorities on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides and hopes for an early resolution of this important issue.