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Israel Releases 199 Palestinian Prisoners

The Israeli ministerial committee that oversees prisoner releases approved today the cabinet decision to release 199 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. This move comes a month after the Israeli government exchanged with Hezbollah five Hezbollah terrorists, including the killer Samir Kuntar, and 199 bodies of Lebanese combatants and infiltrators, for the remains of Israeli soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.

In June, Middle East Bulletin spoke with Brigadier General (Ret.) Ilan Paz, former head of the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank (2002-2005), and Lieutenant General (Ret.) Orit Adato, former commissioner of the Israeli Prison Service. Both highlighted the importance of the release of Palestinian prisoners.

Paz, speaking about the Hezbollah exchange, said:

“[W]hat we are seeing now is madness. We have one partner, Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority (PA), with whom we are negotiating for peace. We are not supporting Abbas by freeing his people from prison. Instead, we are rewarding terrorist organizations – Hamas and Hezbollah – by freeing prisoners according to their demands. In the prisoner swap with Hamas, Israel will likely release Fatah prisoners including Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti.

“What is the political logic? By acting this way we not only encourage future kidnappings of soldiers but also reinforce the conception that Israel only understands force. In the long run, it undermines our partner and the chances of reaching peace. To make the picture more balanced, we have to initiate prisoner releases in cooperation with the PA and demonstrate that this concept wrong.”

Adato asserted that Israel “would be wise … not to wait to address the issue only as part of a final agreement at the end of a process but to use it to move the process itself in the right direction. We need a strong leadership that can face the public and make difficult decisions, including the release of some Palestinians from Israeli jails, from a position of strength at a time of strength rather than a position of weakness (like the exchange of Israeli POWs).”

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دسته‌بندی شده در: Salam Press

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