Over 2,000 Palestinian prisoners continued their open hunger strike for a third week in a row, with two administrative detainees – Thaer Halahleh and Bilal Diab – on the brink of death. The two have been without food since February 29. On May 3, Diab fainted during an Israel High Court session to discuss an appeal to cancel their administration detention, which the judge postponed for 48 hours. According to Arab Knesset member Ahmad Tibi who is also a physician and who examined the two, they were both in extremely poor condition. An Israeli doctor from physicians for human rights who also examined Bilal gave details of his condition. "Bilal’s life-threatening condition includes sharp weight loss, concern for peripheral nerve damage, extremely low pulse (39 beats per minute) and blood pressure, severe dehydration, and possible internal bleeding," the doctor told Addameer. As for the several hundred prisoners on strike inside Israeli prisons, on May 4, Israel's prison administration responded to a list of prisoner demands saying it had agreed to meet several. According to Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqe, a committee formed by the Israeli Prison Service decided to grant detainees, among other things, one phone call per month, and allow them to spend 100 more shekels on personal items. Prison services postponed their decision on the more outstanding issues such as visits for Gaza Strip detainees for two weeks, he said. The central demand of ending solitary confinement was also not met; rather prison officials said they would ‘form a committee to meet monthly and discuss four names at a time of prisoners who are in solitary confinement and review the files and determine if the punishment is necessary. “ While Qaraqe said leaders of the hunger strike are currently discussing the offer, Prisoner Society head Qaddoura Fares said the prisoners had rejected it, saying these things were offered to them earlier. Hamas, furthermore, said on May 4 that there would be consequences for Israel if any prisoners on hunger strike died in jail. “You must realize that the hunger strike isn’t a party, and we could be surprised by the death of some of them,” said Khalil al-Haya, one of Hamas’ leading officials in Gaza. “If that happens, you can expect both the expected and the unexpected from us,” he said. “We are summoned to ready armies to free our prisoners... We have the means to mobilize and for combat,” Haya said. Protests and marches have been taking place daily in the Palestinian territories in solidarity with the prisoners, including clashes with Israeli troops in front of the Ofer and Ramleh Prison inside the Green Line. Meanwhile, the leadership says it is asking international parties to intervene to save the prisoners’ lives. On May 3, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was accountable for the health of hundreds of prisoners on hunger strike, calling on the international community to intervene. “Their cause is an integral part of the homeland’s cause," Fayyad said, during an event on the occasion of Press Freedom Day. "When it's about freedom in Palestine, including freedom of press, I think of the freedom that’s on every Palestinian’s mind in these hard times, namely those on strike in the occupation’s cells." Also on the 3rd, PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat relayed a message from President Abbas to Quartet envoy Tony Blair asking him to urgently intervene in Israel's treatment of Palestinian prisoners. Erekat said the president demanded Israel release all prisoners, particularly those jailed before 1994 and those held without charge. Abbas also called on Israel to end all restrictions on detainees' access to education and family visits, Erekat said, adding that he had met with US consul-general Daniel Rubenstein and requested his urgent intervention. The leadership also said it continued to call on UN, Israeli and European officials to intervene. Meanwhile, Israel is expected to hold early elections on September 4 after the ruling Likud party submitted a bill to dissolve parliament. Opinion polls conducted in Israel on May 3 give Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a clear lead. The Palestinians are also preparing to form yet another new government in light of the continued failure to achieve reconciliation and form a national unit government. On May 4, presidential advisor Nimer Hammad said Abbas would announce a new cabinet by Tuesday. Hammad reportedly told Ma'an News agency that the president's office had received several requests for ministerial positions but that names being circulated in the media were "rumors." In the midst of these political changes, Israel continues to build more and more settlements on Palestinian land. Earlier this week, Israel planning officials approved the construction of 1,100 hotel rooms in the “Givat Hamatos” settlement in occupied east Jerusalem. France gave a strong worded condemnation of the plans, saying on May 2 that it “urged the Israeli government to reconsider the plans, noting that all settlement activity in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is illegal under international law.” The statement went on to say that, "The relentless pursuit of settlement activity in East Jerusalem is all the more deplorable because it increasingly undermines the prospect of making Jerusalem the capital of the two States, which is critical for any peace agreement." Furthermore, on April 29, presidential advisor Nabil Abu Rdeineh said the leadership condemned the Israeli government approval of settlement units in the Kochav Yaakov near Ramallah. In a weekly Israeli cabinet meeting, the ministers agreed the transfer settlers from the soon-to be evacuated outpost of "Migron" which is built on privately own Palestinian land, to the "Kochav Yaakov" settlement west of Ramallah. Also, on May 1, Israeli authorities ordered Palestinian farmers to uproot thousands of olive trees built in Area C of the West Bank, under complete Israeli administrative and security control. The area, mostly west of Nablus, has been classified by Israel as ‘natural reserves”. As for the PA’s continuing financial crisis, Prime Minister Salam Fayyad gave a ray of hope on May 1 when he said he had reason to believe the crisis would be overcome within the coming two months. According to him, there were promises from donor countries to transfer funds by the end of next month, which he believes will cover most of the crisis. Meanwhile, he hinted at a possible PA plan to take out a $300 million loan from banks to cover the gap period in between. Finally, President Abbas sent a stern warning on May 3 to anyone he said dared “tamper with homeland security”, saying the government and its security forces would crack down with an “iron fist”. His warning came following the sudden death of Jenin governor Qaddoura Mousa on May 2 of a heart attack in his home. Apparently, unidentified armed gunmen fired shots at Mousa’s home the night before. Abbas said his security forces were actively pursuing the perpetrators and would bring them to justice.