Thousands of Palestinians gathered in Mandela Square in Ramallah on Wednesday to support the more than 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners who have been on hunger strike for 17 days in Israeli jails.
The movement Freedom and Dignity is struggling for better conditions for the 6,200 Palestinians prisoners in Israel. But Israeli Prison Service stays inflexible.
Demonstrators took to the street while Mahmoud Abbas was meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump. According to Haaretz, the Trump administration has asked Abbas to end government payments to the families of prisoners in Israeli jails. The Israeli government considers these pensions to be incitement to violence and terrorism. Benjamin Netanyahu has made stopping these payments a new pre-condition for the resumption of peace negotiations.
Thousands of families of prisoners and Palestinian ‘martyrs’ get payments from the Palestinian Authority that are considered considered humanitarian, not political, by Palestinians officials. These prisoners allowances are paid monthly to thousands of families via the Palestinian National Fund, which Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman has called a “terrorist organization.” Their amount varies according to the years of imprisonment.
Palestinians will strongly disapprove if Mahmoud Abbas concedes to Trump’s request and the protesters in Ramallah said that they do not understand the US president’s request.
Ahmad Al Akra, a demonstrator in Ramallah, said, “[Abbas] has been compromising more of our freedom and so far nothing has been accomplished. And I think this might be the final straw. The fact that Trump, a populist president who clearly supports Israel asks a representative of the Palestinian people to cut pensions to prisoners . . .it’s just a bizarre thing to do.”