Abbas’ silence on prisoners astounding, says UK’s Baroness Tonge

by Julie Webb-Pullman, via Gaza Scoop

In a telephone link-up with Gaza today Baroness Jennifer Tonge told members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) she was astounded at the silence of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and the PLC regarding the Israeli kidnapping of PFLP member of parliament Khalida Jarrar on April 02, 2015.

“I was horrified at her detention, especially considering her age and poor health,” said Baroness Tonge.

Noting that Abbas is responsible for security, she slammed him for also saying nothing about children taken from their beds in the middle of the night to be thrown into Israeli jails.

The event, organised by the Change and Reform bloc of the PLC to highlight Israeli detention of Khalida Jarrar and more than ten other members of the Palestinian parliament, called on the national and international community to take Israel to task for its gross breaches of the Geneva Conventions and other instruments of international law.

MP Mohammed Al Ghoul spoke of the arbitrary detention of PLC speaker Aziz Dweik, calling it “unprecedented.”

“Aziz Dweik has been held without charge or trial for five years, and 14 MPs remain imprisoned. It has been clear from the start that these are politically-motivated detentions to prevent the PLC doing its work,” Al Ghoul claimed.

He also spoke about the death of 22 year old Jafa Awad two days ago, who died from complications after being injected with incorrect doses of insulin in Israel’s Eshelon prison, making him the 209th Palestinian prisoner to be killed by Israel.

“We send a message to the Arab and Islamic states to help us in this situation. The Israeli Occupation is trying to remove members of parliament from the Palestinian political arena. We need the media to play its role, also governments,” head of the “Free MP Prisoners” Committee Ahmed Ahtoun said, adding that two ministers are amongst the parliamentarians still languishing in Israeli prisons.

He also noted that MPs not only averaged five to seven years in jail, but their sons and daughters on the outside were killed, and their houses targeted by Israel.

Hani Al Masri of the Civil Community organisations spoke from the West Bank, saying that 900,000 Palestinians have been detained by Israel since 1948, and called for Palestinians to unite to confront the prisoner issue, a call that was echoed by other speakers such as Jamil Majdalawi.

“We want to face the world as one people, one parliament, one state,” he said. “The key of national unity is in the hand of Abu Mazen [President Abbas] – he has the solution. He needs to open the national unity door.”

Speaker of the PLC in Gaza Ahmed Bahar sent a message to both Abbas and Fatah to apply the national unity agreement.

“Don’t help the Israeli Occupation,” he said, “Stop the negotiations and end the Oslo agreement.”

“We ask Abbas not to be the knife in the body of Palestinians,” concluded MP Huda Naim. “He must stop dealing with the Israeli Occupation, and confront the crime of the kidnapping of our members of parliament. The Palestinian Authority needs to take responsibility for this.”

Accoording to Human Rights watch, on April 05 the Israeli military commander of the West Bank ordered Khalida Jarrar’s administrative detention for six months. On April 08 a military court held a hearing to determine whether to uphold the administrative detention order. The court deferred its decision until April 14, partly because the prosecution hadn’t given Jarrar’s lawyers access even to the non-secret evidence against her. On April 09 her lawyers said they still hadn’t received the file.