Hamas to discuss Prisoners’ Hunger Strike Issue in Cairo

Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal will meet the Egyptian foreign minister and the Arab League Secretary General on Sunday in Cairo to discuss the issue of a mass hunger strike by Palestinian prisoners, an official said.

“A Hamas delegation headed by Brother Khaled Meshaal will meet Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr and tSecretary General of the Arab League, Nabil al-Arabi,” Hamas political bureau member Izzat al-Rishq wrote on his Facebook page.

“The issue of hunger-striking prisoners will be at the top of their discussions in addition to the reconciliation file,” he said.

Some 1,350 Palestinian prisoners being held by Israel are currently on their 13 day of a collective mass hunger strike to protest against the conditions in which they are being held, with many more expected to join them in the coming days.

Another eight prisoners have been refusing food for a longer period of time, with two of them now into their 61st day of hunger strike, despite their chronic health problems.

The visiting Hamas delegation would stress the need for Arab and international support over the prisoners’ cause, Rishq said.

According to the Palestinian Information Centre (PIC), a news website close to Hamas, Meshaal met Egyptian intelligence chief, Murad Mohammed Muafi in Cairo on Saturday.

Sami Khater, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, said the two discussed the prisoners’ hunger strike as well as the stalled attempts to implement a reconciliation agreement with its political rival, Fatah.

“We put our Egyptian brothers in the picture as to the situation of prisoners in the occupation’s prisons, and that their situation calls for a series of political, popular and media campaigns to show solidarity with them,” he told the website.

They also discussed ways of implementing the reconciliation agreement, which has made no progress since it was signed in May 2011, although Hamas was seeking to unblock the process, he said.

Meshaal, who arrived in Cairo on Friday, also met with his Islamic Jihad counterpart, Ramadan Shallah, on Saturday, the website said, without saying what the two have discussed.

Hamas is currently renewing its Shura advisory council which will select the movement’s political bureau.

Part of the Hamas leadership, particularly in Gaza, has accused Meshaal of making too many concessions in the search for reconciliation with Fatah, according to AFP.

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