Issa Qaraqe said prisoners held in Israeli jails would launch strike action on Thursday to demand the release of prisoners detained before the 1993 Oslo Accord with Israel.
The hunger strike coincides with the anniversary of the signing of the agreement. The prisoner rights group Addameer says 111 prisoners detained before Oslo remain in jail.
Head of the Palestinian Prisoners Society Qadura Fares said Thursday that those prisoners remained in jail because of the failure of Palestinian negotiators during the Oslo Accords.
“The behavior of the Palestinian negotiator was impulsive and the issue of prisoners was not discussed or made a priority at the negotiating table,” Fares said.
Palestinian prisoners should be the most important issue “at any political meeting, convention or negotiations” with Israel, he added.
Since the signing of the accords, prisoners and their advocates have criticized Palestinian negotiators for failing to address their plight.
In October 1993, political prisoners in Juneib jail in Nablus wrote a letter “Where is our place in the Accords?” protesting their exclusion from the agreement.
In the October 1994 Gaza-Jericho agreement, minister Nabil Shaath insisted on a timetable for the release of all prisoners detained prior to the 1993 accord.
Some 4,450 prisoners were released by July 1995, but those who remained in detention “appeared to rank extremely low on the Palestinian negotiators’ agenda in the Oslo II Agreement, signed on 24 September 1995,” Addameer has said.
One page of that agreement was devoted to the release of detainees, compared to four pages detailing the special passage of Palestinian VIPs.
On Wednesday, a prisoners statement from Hadarim jail called on President Mahmoud Abbas and the countries which supported Oslo to secure the pre-Oslo detainees’ release.