Palestinian Authority Prisoner Affairs Minister Issa Karaka said Monday that there would be an official welcoming ceremony for 26 Palestinian security prisoners being released from Israeli jails at the Presidential Palace in Ramallah on Tuesday at midnight.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas was set to be on hand at the ceremony to greet the prisoners, released as part of ongoing Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
A Ministerial Committee on Sunday approved the release of 26 prisoners imprisoned for murder or attempted murder prior to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. A first batch of 26 prisoners was released in July.
"The second phase of the prisoner release is a great achievment for the Palestinian leadership, for Abu Mazen [Abbas] and for the Palestinian people because it represents an extra step toward the release of all the prisoners from the Israeli occupation's jails," Karaka stated.
During a visit to the families of prisoners set to be released in Nablus, Karaka said that "the Israeli concept of 'life in prison' has collapsed, because the prisoners who are set to be freed were sent, according to this concept, to be locked up behind bars for the rest of their lives."
Karaka said that the third phase of the prisoner release was set to take place on December 29, and the fourth on March 29, 2014.
The PA minister claimed that Israeli-Arab prisoners would be included in the third and fourth batches of prisoners to be released. Israel has refused to release Israeli-Arabs as part of prisoner releases in the past, claiming that releasing Israeli citizens was a challenge to Israeli sovereignty.
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