Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is seeking to expedite the approval of a bill that would allow the force-feeding of Palestinian terrorists being held in Israeli jails, five weeks after the prisoners announced an open-ended hunger strike.
Netanyahu communicated his request at a special meeting he convened on Thursday.
According to Channel 2, representatives of the Israeli Medical Association told Netanyahu that their organization opposed the bill on the grounds that it would essentially sanction torture. They noted that even if the bill was to pass, the IMA would not allow Israeli physicians to take part in force-feeding prisoners.
Netanyahu retorted that the government would be able to find other physicians who would defy the IMA, and cited the U.S. military's force-feeding of prisoners at the Guantanamo Bay detention camp in Cuba.
The bill, which has cleared its early legislative hurdles, is likely to be presented for a third and final Knesset vote in the coming months.
Palestinian prisoners have staged hunger strikes over the years, sometimes as individuals and sometimes in groups. The current hunger strike was launched on April 24 by 80 detainees, and more have joined since.
The prisoners demand their release and the end of the open-ended "administrative detention" measure, which allows the authorities to hold individuals in custody without charge or trial for protracted periods. Over the years, virtually all administrative detainees have been Palestinian terror suspects.
The Israeli human rights group B'Tselem said that as of April, 191 Palestinians were in administrative detention. Overall, Israel is holding more than 5,000 Palestinians accused or convicted of anti-Israeli activity.
According to a spokesperson for the Israel Prison Service, more than 200 Palestinian prisoners are currently on a hunger strike.