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Barghouti warns against Israeli talks, says video fake

Palestinian women wave their national flags with a picture of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti during a protest to show their solidarity with hunger striking prisoners in Israeli jails, in Beirut, Lebanon, on May 4, 2017. (Photo by AP)

Former Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti has warned against the resumption of talks with Israel after Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas met US leaders in Washington. 

The jailed Fatah leader met his lawyer Khader Shkirat on Sunday for the first time since he began his hunger strike about a month ago and delivered him a letter later published in the media.

In the letter obtained by Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV, Barghouti warned against the resumption of the so-called peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians based on the same principles that have “proven unsuccessful in the past.”

The last round of the talks collapsed in April 2014, with Israeli settlements cited among major reasons behind the failure. Settlements are considered illegal under international law as they are built on occupied Palestinian lands. 

Barghouti’s remarks came after US President Donald Trump discussed ways to resume the Palestinian-Israeli political process during a meeting with Abbas at the White House earlier this month.

Barghouti also urged Fatah and the Palestinian resistance movement Hamas to enter into a national reconciliation agreement.

He called on Palestinians to carry out acts of “civil disobedience” to commemorate the Nakba Day, which marks the anniversary of forcible eviction of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homeland in 1948.

The Day of Catastrophe is officially marked every year on May 15, but the occasion this year coincides with a hunger strike being observed by more than 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. 

Barghouti, the leader of the Palestinian prisoners’ hunger strike in Israeli prisons, vowed to continue the protest action till they achieve their goals.

“I promise to you and to all the prisoners that we are continuing the empty stomach campaign and the campaign for freedom and dignity until we achieve our objectives, and that nothing will break the will or determination of the prisoners despite the assault on them and the oppression they are coping with,” Barghouti wrote.

He added, “I stress that all efforts at blackmail and tough moves will only increase the prisoners’ determination.”

File photo of former Fatah Movement leader Marwan Barghouti

Barghouti’s lawyer said that his client had lost 13 kilograms (28 pounds) since beginning the hunger strike, adding he would escalate the protest and stop drinking water.

Shkirat further said the jailed leader denied the authenticity of a video prepared by Israel’s prisons authority last week, which purportedly showed Barghouti taking food in his cell.

The Palestinian prisoners entered the 29th day of their hunger strike in Israeli jails on Monday, amid reports that many of them are in critical conditions.

The National Committee for the Freedom and Dignity Strike, which acts as a front for the campaign, called for a commercial strike from 11 am to 2 pm on Monday where all shops would be closed, describing the coming days as days of confrontation with the Israeli occupation.

It also called for the boycott of Israeli products on the occasion of the Nakba Day, calling on all merchants to abide by the call.

The committee further urged the UN General Assembly and the Security Council and all rights organizations to shoulder their responsibilities and force the Israeli regime to abide by international humanitarian law.

Barghouti started the protest action on April 17 and was joined by hundreds of fellow inmates. The mass strike, dubbed the Freedom and Dignity Strike, seeks to force Israeli authorities into improving prison and confinement conditions.

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