Israel’s Foreign Minister has praised Britain’s decision to let Irish "terrorist hunger strikers commit suicide" in 1981.
Minister Avigdor Liberman made the controversial claim after the recent release of jailed terrorist Samer Issawi after a 266 day hunger strike.
Criticizing the release, Liberman referred to the British government’s handling of the 1981 hunger strikes in Northern Ireland, led by Bobby Sands.
And he praised the stance taken by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and her cabinet.
Liberman said: “More than 10 of the protesters died in the hunger strike, among them a striker that was elected at the time to the British Parliament by one of the voting regions in North Ireland.
“Despite all that, the British government under Margaret Thatcher did not submit to the prisoners’ demands. In the end the strike ended without the conditions of the striking prisoners being met.
“Every normal democratic country that aspires to defend itself, like the great democracy of Britain that I mentioned would already have returned Issawi to his cell.
“Like the British minister Humphrey Atkins said of the Irish hunger strike, ‘if he persistently wishes to commit suicide, he is welcome to pursue his intent.”
The Israeli national news website reports that Issawi called for the kidnapping of Israeli soldiers immediately after his release.
Issawi said: “The release of prisoners will only be achieved through kidnapping and prisoner exchange deals, nothing will be achieved without that.”
Liberman responded: “A prisoner that was released on conditions and calls, the same day, for the kidnapping of soldiers of the nation that freed him needs to serve his full sentence in jail without any reductions, and if he wants to hunger strike let him do that as much as he wants.”
Issawi was sentenced to 26 years in jail for terrorism in 2002 and first went free after 10 years in the deal to free Gilad Shalit. He signed a promise not to return to terrorist activities but broke those conditions and was rearrested in August 2012.
The report states that after 8 months of hunger striking, Issawi was admitted to an Israeli hospital, and offered an arrangement to stop his hunger strike and go home after 8 more months of imprisonment.
Issawi agreed to the deal, and was subsequently freed on Christmas Eve.
Liberman was named person of the year by the Jerusalem Post newspaper.