Abie Nathan Ends Hunger Strike

Wan and haggard after 40 days without food, peace activist Abie Nathan called off his hunger strike Thursday “out of respect” for President Chaim Herzog and because he believes he has made his point.

He was invited to the presidential residence, where Herzog appealed to him for 10 minutes to stop endangering his life.

Nathan, who recently marked his 64th birthday, lost nearly 50 pounds during his self-imposed ordeal.

He had subsisted since April on eight pints of water a day with some fruit juice. He had been confined to bed in recent days, almost too weak to move.

Nathan’s campaign, on which he spent some $86,000, was aimed at repealing the law banning Israelis from having contact with representatives of the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Although efforts in that direction by his small bloc of supporters in the Knesset predictably failed, Nathan, his voice hoarse, claimed his fast had made the public aware of the “stupidity” of the law.

But his argument that Israel must talk to its enemies if it is to make peace with them has failed to change official policy.

Nathan served four months in jail last year for meeting with PLO chief Yasir Arafat in Tunis, and faces another jail sentence for another Arafat meeting.

Nathan was in fact indicted last month, in the middle of his fast. His trial is scheduled for September.

He ended his fast by accepting a bowl of soup offered him by Herzog. He will return to solid food only gradually, under medical supervision.

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