UN chief concerned about Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails
Thu Feb 21, 2013 2:36AM
The United Nations is speaking out on the plight of Palestinian hunger strikers in Israeli jails -- but only up to a point. U-N Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon says he's concerned about the situation and wants a quick resolution -- but as usual -- he's fallen short of making demands where Israel is concerned.UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke with Israeli Premier Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Wednesday. According to Ban's spokesman -- they discussed a number of issues -- including the resumption of Israeli / Palestinian talks and the larger situation in the region -- including Syria's troubles. But that wasn't all. Further specifics of that conversation were hard to come by on Wednesday however. Nesirky said that he wouldn't characterize the conversation between the Secretary-General -- and he wouldn't get specific about what Ban had in mind when he called for an "urgent solution." In his statement of Tuesday afternoon -- however -- Ban did call on Israel to use due process to charge and try the Palestinian prisoners it holds -- or release them immediately. Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails have gotten new attention of late due to the hunger strike of Samer Issawi -- a Palestinian who was released during a prisoner swap deal between Israel and Hamas a year ago. Issawi -- however -- was re-arrested not long after his release. Issawi began a hunger strike late last July to raise awareness of Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners. He's said to be on the verge of death -- yet he was denied bail by an Israeli court a day ago -- and the charges he's being held under have never been released. His cause has caught fire -- as hundreds of other Palestinian prisoners have begun to refuse to eat -- and UN officials in Ramallah say they're trying to mediate as best they can. In fairness -- exacting any kind of action regarding release of illegal prisoners isn't the job of the UN Secretary-General. Such actions are the duty of the UN Security Council -- which has time and again shown its inability to deal with such Israeli crimes due to the Council's architecture -- and specifically American abuse of its veto power on behalf of Israel. Palestinian leaders have plainly pointed to the prisoners -- and illegal Israeli settlement building -- as roadblocks that must be overcome if talks are to resume.