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Palestinian prisoner calls off hunger strike in deal with Israeli authorities

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JERUSALEM — A Palestinian prisoner who had been on a hunger strike for more than two months to protest his detention without trial called off his fast after reaching a deal with the Israeli authorities, the Israeli Justice Ministry said Tuesday.

Khader Adnan, 33, accused of being a prominent activist in the militant Islamic Jihad group, had refused food for 65 days, longer than any other Palestinian prisoner, drawing expressions of concern from human rights groups, United Nations officials and the European Union. An appeal against his detention was to be heard Tuesday by the Israeli Supreme Court.

But the hearing was canceled after the deal was reached. A Justice Ministry statement said the authorities had agreed to reduce Adnan’s time in jail and not renew his detention order, provided there was no new information on his case, in exchange for his calling off the hunger strike. He is to be released April 17, three weeks early.

Adnan was arrested Dec. 17 and an order was issued Jan. 8 detaining him without trial for four months. He went on a hunger strike the day after his arrest, protesting what he said was abuse under interrogation and his detention without charges.

Israeli officials say the measure, known as “administrative detention,” is used as a preventive step against people who pose a security threat, when a court proceeding would expose sources of intelligence. The prisoner can be held for a renewable term of up to six months, on the basis of classified information that is generally not disclosed to the detainee’s attorneys. Thousands of Palestinians have been held under such conditions, and currently 309 are being held without charge, according to official figures.

Jawad Boulous, Adnan’s attorney, said before the deal was reached that authorities had failed to show that his client was involved in violence, and that “they have no evidence to put him on trial.” On Monday, Richard Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian areas, cited a statement from the Israeli government that Adnan “is not suspected of direct involvement with terrorist attacks.”

Adnan’s case had set off demonstrations of support in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and posed a challenge to the Israeli government as the prisoner’s health deteriorated. The prospect of Adnan’s death had raised concerns that it could trigger significant unrest in Palestinian areas. Instead, his supporters celebrated Tuesday at a rally in his home village of Arrabe, near the northern West Bank city of Jenin.

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