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Israeli prisoner release gets mixed response

Aug. 12, 2013 at 7:42 AM   |   Comments

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JERUSALEM, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- The pending release of the first batch of Palestinian prisoners by Israel this week met with a mixed response Monday.

While some Israeli politicians spoke out against the move, Palestinian officials described the move as an "important step to promoting peace."

After midnight Sunday, the Israel Prison Service released the identities of the first batch of 26 Palestinians scheduled to be released by Israel Tuesday, as a measure of goodwill toward the Palestinians before talks between the sides resume Wednesday.

Members of the public have 48 hours to appeal the move in court.

Fourteen of the prisoners will be released to the Gaza Strip, and the remaining 12 to the West Bank, prime minister's office said in a statement.

However, a close inspection of the 26 names reveals Sabih Abed Hammed Borhan, was arrested in February 2001. This contradicts the government's decision that 104 Palestinian prisoners to be released in four batches over the nine-month period allotted for negotiations with the Palestinians, were all incarcerated prior to the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

Housing Minister Uri Ariel criticized the government's decision saying he could not understand how releasing prisoners will bring about peace. "Terrorists belong in jail. Otherwise, the government is making a mockery of the legal system that ruled these vile murderers should be in prison," The Jerusalem Post quoted him as saying Monday.

Other Knesset members described the move "immoral."

"President Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas] has succeeded in putting the issue of prisoners as a political and national priority," Issa Qaraqe, the Palestinian minister of detainees, told the Ma'an News Agency.

Fatah official Abbas Zaki welcomed the prisoner release and said the freeing of all Palestinian prisoners incarcerated in Israel is a key priority, the Palestinian news agency said.

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