PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah has confirmed that the Palestinian Ministry of Detainees will be replaced by a committee which will be headed by Shawqi al-Ayasa, also minister of agriculture and social affairs.This particular point of debate has been a major holdup in the announcing of a new Palestinian government.
According to Ma’an, Hamas officials have called it a ‘stab in the back’ for Palestinian prisoners and hunger strikers.
The Electronic Intifada’s Abdel Bari Atwan reports that four Gaza ministers, all of them independents, were not permitted to travel to Ramallah for the swearing-in ceremony, except for Ziad Abu Amra, the minister of culture who was already in Ramallah.
Furthermore, the process of selecting a cabinet has officiated the relinquishing of three major ministerial portfolios — the Foreign Ministry, the Ministry of Religious Affairs and, finally, the Ministry of Prisoner Affairs, which Abbas abolished under Israeli and American pressure.
Palestinian officials said, this week, that the US could withdraw financial support for the Palestinian Authority if the ministry was not dissolved.
So far, three Palestinian associations have called on Abbas to cancel his decision to abolish the ministry.
Al Ray reports that a number of Palestinian figures, ex-prisoners and children participated in a march organized by Palestinian Prisoners Committee, Prisoners’ Union and Waed Association for Prisoners Ex-prisoners at al-Saraya crossroad, in central Gaza city, this past Sunday evening, where demonstrators raised banners demanding the Palestinian President to reverse his decision.
Head of Waed Association Tawfiq abu Naim said, “The Palestinian prisoners inside the Israeli prisons will not remain silent,” adding that the suffering of the prisoners has now increased by the decision.
Dozens of the administrative detainees continue their indefinite hunger strike for 39 days in a row, now, according to Al Ray, in demand of an end to Israel’s administrative detention policy, in which Palestinians are held indefinitely under severe conditions without charge or trial.
The Israeli prison administration recently distributed leaflets to Palestinian prisoners held in their jails, in an official renege on a previous agreement reached in 2012, under Egyptian auspices.
Under that agreement, 2,000 Palestinian prisoners ended their hunger strike with a promise by Israel to end the policy itself but, as of March 1, 183 Palestinians were still being held under administrative detention.
The current strike was launched April 24, by 80 detainees, and many have since joined.