Freedom of Prisoners Determines Israel’s Commitment to Peace, says Abbas

RAMALLAH, April 27, 2013 (WAFA) – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday said that the freedom of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails is the scale that will determine Israel’s commitment toward the peace process.

He said in a taped speech viewed at the opening session of the two-day Freedom and Dignity conference held in Ramallah to mark 11 years since the arrest of Fatah leader and lawmaker Marwan Barghouti and attended by a large number of international figures that “the Israeli crimes will not go by without unaccountability.”

“Palestine is a non-member observer state at the United Nations and we have the freedom to take legal action at any international forum,” he said.

Delegations of over 100 internationals from Europe, Africa and Latin America arrived in Ramallah on Friday to participate in a 6-day tour of the West Bank and Jerusalem to discuss issues related to the Palestinian prisoners and their conditions in Israeli jails.

Outgoing Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that this meeting is a proof that prisoners do not stand alone in the world. He said that the time has come to end Israeli violations of their rights.

Vice President of the European Parliament Isabelle Durant said the European Union continues to follow with concern the prisoners’ issue and makes rather immense efforts to set them free.

She said in the speech presented on behalf of the EP president, Martin Schulz, that Israel must be held accountable when prisoners are being detained without charge or trial because it becomes an issue of human rights.

Barghouti’s wife, Fadwa, read a letter from her husband in which he mainly called for translating Palestine’s UN membership into a reality.

Former US President Jimmy Carter expressed solidarity with the Palestinian prisoners in a videotaped speech and highlighted the importance of freedom of prisoners for peace.

He said that the construction of settlements in the Palestinian Territory must stop and all the illegal settlements must be removed.

He also called on the Palestinians to form their unity government and hold elections to reunite their leadership.

Member of the African National Congress (ANC), Ahmed Kathrada, spoke at the meeting of his experience in prison during the apartheid rule of South Africa comparing between the situation in Palestine and in then South Africa.

He called for further support to the Palestinian prisoners saying that the similarity between Israel’s rule over the Palestinians and South Africa’s apartheid period is that both have “a common purpose in oppressing people who they don’t agree with.”

Minister of Prisoners Issa Qaraqi briefed the audience on violations in Israeli prisons and outside.

He spoke about torture in Israeli jails, sexual harassment, arrest of minors, and house arrests.

Qaraqi insisted that as long as Israel continues to hold Palestinians in jail, no peace will be accomplished.

Source: WAFA News