European Parliament confirms fact-finding committee on Palestinian prisoners

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The deputy ambassador of Palestine to the European Union, Hadi Shebli, announced that the European Parliament is still sending a fact-finding committee to gather evidence about the situation for Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails despite Israel’s efforts to prevent the committee’s delegation from visiting Israeli prisons.

The European Union decided that there was a need for such a mission after Arafat Jaradat, a Palestinian prisoner, was tortured to death in Israeli prisons in February 2013.

Shebli explained that the European Parliament had recommended earlier in March to send a fact-finding committee from the European Parliament to inspect the conditions of the Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails between 19-20 of this month and that until yesterday, Israel had been trying, using various methods and means, to obstruct the mission.

He pointed out that the latest attempt last week, when Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced that the committee’s delegation would not be allowed to visit Israeli jails unless Europe opened its prisons to an Israeli mission.

However, the Palestinians are insisting on the need for the European Parliament to send such a mission even if it is not allowed to visit prisons in Israel, and that it must be undertaken during the current term of the European Parliament because it would be difficult to send any such delegation during the next parliament’s term for various reasons.

He explained that work has been underway to prepare the programme of the delegation’s visit, which is supposed to cover formal meetings with the competent authorities in addition to meetings with human rights institutions, a visit to the Ofer detention centre and meetings with the families of released prisoners.

According to Shebli, the delegation will be headed by the Irish chairperson of the committee that oversees relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council in the European Parliament, Emer Costello, and will feature six MPs from the four parliamentary blocs: the European peoples’ party, green bloc, communist bloc and liberal bloc, and will also include the chairperson of the committee overseeing European relations with Israel, being the representative of the social democratic bloc.

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