Report: Israel, PA nearing deal to free Palestinian hunger striker
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Report: Israel, PA nearing deal to free Palestinian hunger striker

Palestinian officials say an agreement may be reached on Sunday to end journalist Mohammed al-Qiq’s 88-day fast

Photo taken on January 22, 2016, shows a Palestinian man carrying a placard bearing a portrait of Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq during a demonstration near Ramallah demanding his release from an Israeli jail. (Abbas Momani/AFP, File)
Photo taken on January 22, 2016, shows a Palestinian man carrying a placard bearing a portrait of Palestinian journalist Mohammed al-Qiq during a demonstration near Ramallah demanding his release from an Israeli jail. (Abbas Momani/AFP, File)

A deal may be struck Sunday between the Palestinian Authority and Israel to release hunger striker Mohammed al-Qiq from Israeli custody, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported Saturday, quoting Palestinian officials.

Former minister-without-portfolio Qadura Fares said PA officials hoped to reach a compromise that al-Qiq and his family would accept, though he warned there was “no guarantee” of such an agreement.

The Palestinian Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs claimed Saturday that a deal may see Israel agree to release the detained journalist in May, and vow not to place him in administrative detention in the future, in exchange for al-Qiq, now on his 88th day without food, ending his strike.

The 33-year-old journalist was arrested and held by Israel without charge on November 21 under administrative detention. He has refused food since November 25 and is currently being treated at Emek Medical Center in the northern city of Afula.

On Tuesday the High Court of Justice rejected al-Qiq’s petition to be transferred to a hospital in Ramallah, and ruled he must stay in the Israeli hospital where he is currently being held.

Qiq, whose condition has been rapidly deteriorating, earlier on Tuesday rejected an Israeli compromise to transfer him to East Jerusalem’s al-Makassed Hospital, saying he would only end his fast if he is sent to a medical facility in the West Bank, under Palestinian Authority jurisdiction.

The United Nations has expressed concern about his fate, with the International Committee of the Red Cross describing his condition as critical.

The Shin Bet security service says Qiq was detained under the controversial administrative detention directive for activity on behalf of the Palestinian terror group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip. He denies this.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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