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EU parliament urges Israel to release Marwan Barghouthi, other PLC members

Sept. 4, 2008 11:09 P.M. (Updated: Sept. 4, 2008 11:09 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - The European parliament called on Israel to release charismatic Fatah leader Marwan Barghouthi in a resolution denouncing Israeli police towards Palestinian prisoners on Thursday.

"A substantial release of Palestinian prisoners," the document says, "as well as the immediate release of the 48 imprisoned members of the Palestinian Legislative Council including Marwan Barghouti, could serve as a positive step to establish the climate of mutual trust needed to make progress in the peace negotiations."

The resolution was passed with a majority of 416 votes to 136 and 61 abstentions. The document welcomed as a "positive step" Israel's recent release of 198 Palestinians, but deplored the ongoing incarceration of another 11,000.

The EU called on Israel to respect "minimum standards" of treatment of detainees, and deplored the harsh conditions, including torture, that Palestinians are subjected to in Israeli prisons.

The document affirmed the role of Palestinian prisoners, including members of parliament, in political life, such as the role prisoners played in creating the last Palestinian government of national unity.

The resolutions said that upgrading relations between the EU and Israel should take human rights and as a consideration, linking relations to Israel's respect for international law.

The parliament welcomed the call, in the recent EU-Israel partnership agreement, to create a special committee on human rights.

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