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Erekat: World must pressure Israel over hunger striker

Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Monday urged world leaders to pressure Israel to free Khader Adnan, a prisoner on hunger strike for 65 days over his detention without charge.

"I sent messages to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton today, and spoke with the EU and Chinese envoys," Erakat told AFP.

"I asked them all to intervene in Adnan's case. They must apply pressure on Israel to release him," he said.

Israel arrested Adnan, a 34-year-old baker, on December 17 near the northern West Bank town of Jenin, where he once served as a spokesman for the militant group Islamic Jihad.

He began refusing food a day after his arrest, and after nine weeks of hunger strike is now said to be close to death.

World leaders have expressed growing concern over the fate of the prisoner, who is being held without charge under a procedure known as "administrative detention."

Palestinian officials have warned that his death in custody could spark a violent backlash.

Under Israeli laws dating back to British mandate, military tribunals can order an individual held without charge for up to six months. Such orders can be extended by further six-month periods indefinitely if approved at a new hearing.

-AFP/NOW Lebanon

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