Senior Hamas member Dr Salah Al-Bardaweel has praised Tunisia for hosting an international conference focusing on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails. Al-Bardaweel described the sponsorship as a "natural outcome" of the Arab Spring. "This is recognition that Tunisia is defending the dignity of the whole Arab and Islamic nation, not only Palestine's," he said.
Speaking to Quds Press, Dr Al-Bardaweel thanked President Munsif Al-Marzouqi for his country's patronage of the conference. "Holding a conference about prisoners in Israeli jails in a country such as Tunisia, where the Arab Spring began, means that other countries could do similar events," he suggested. "We believe that Tunisia has suffered from a similar despotism and so its people know the meaning of oppression as well as the real meaning of freedom and justice."
Broadening the discussion from the issue of Palestinian prisoners, Al-Bardaweel said that defending the rights of prisoners should be an Arabic and Islamic duty as they are Arabs and Muslims as well as Palestinians. He hopes, therefore, that those attending will take the message away and defend Palestinian prisoners in other countries and cities. "We should get to the point of using all possible legal channels to press the Israeli occupation to release them," he said.
The international conference on Palestinian prisoners is due to be held in Tunis on 10-11 November. Palestinian and international human rights activists, politicians and journalists are expected to attend, under the patronage of the Tunisian president.