Palestinians on Monday expressed disappointment because the list of prisoners slated for release does not include Israeli Arabs and residents of east Jerusalem.
The list, which was published early Monday, consists of 26 prisoners – 11 from the West Bank and 15 from the Gaza Strip.
Kadoura Fares, director of the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club, said the Palestinian Authority leadership would discuss the “flaw created by Israel’s selection of the first batch of prisoners who are to be released, because the list does not include prisoners from inside Israel and Jerusalem.”
Fares told the Palestine News Network that the “flaw” would be corrected in the next batch of prisoners.
He said the Palestinian Authority leadership would work toward reaching an agreement with Israel to allow Palestinians to participate in choosing which prisoners would be released.
Fares said the original plan was that the prisoners would be released on Tuesday. He added that the PA leadership was opposed to the deportation of any prisoner.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas was quoted by the Palestinian Authority’s official news agency Wafa as saying that “not a single prisoner would be deported outside the homeland.”
PA officials also voiced disappointment over the fact that the list included a number of prisoners who were expected to be released anyway in the next few months or years.
They also expressed surprise that the list included Burhan Subaih, a PA security officer who was arrested in February 2001. They added that the decision to release Subaih did not meet the criteria for the release of inmates imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo Accords two decades ago.
Meanwhile, Fadwa Barghouti, wife of jailed Fatah leader Marwan Barghouti, expressed astonishment over the failure of the PA leadership to demand the release of her husband. She told the Palestinian news agency Ma’an that the PA leadership had completely ignored her husband during negotiations over the prisoner release.
“Does the Palestinian leadership want Marwan Barghouti and other prisoners to wait another 30 years until they are released?” she asked.
Also on Monday, MK Ibrahim Sarsour (United Arab List/Ta’al) slammed the PA for its failure to ensure the inclusion of Israeli Arabs among the first batch of 26 prisoners slated to go free.
Sarsour said Israel should not be allowed to dictate the identities of the prisoners being released. He referred to the PA as “a group of losers who do not deserve the honor of representing the Palestinian cause.”
He questioned how the PA could enter into negotiations with Israel the day after the Israeli government announced the advancement of construction plans in the West Bank and east Jerusalem.
Sarsour contended that the PA had “lost the battle before it starts” by accepting Israel’s conditions for negotiations.
An Israeli diplomatic official said Israel would carefully watch the reception the PA grants the 26 terrorists expected to be released before Wednesday’s talks begin in Jerusalem.
A hero’s welcome, “a celebration of murderers,” would undermine trust and create questions as to whether the Palestinians had “really changed their fundamental positions,” he said.
The official added that he did not know of Israeli efforts to get third parties to talk with the PA about toning down the expected celebratory receptions.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is expected to meet US special envoy Martin Indyk on Tuesday, but it was not clear whether the receptions would be one of the issues to be discussed.
The official also characterized Palestinian anger over Sunday’s announcement of new construction tenders in Jerusalem and the large settlement blocs as “theater” intended for both an international and Palestinian audience.
“There is a lot of public posturing and point-scoring” going on, the source said.
He added that it was clear to both the Palestinians and the Americans that Israel did not commit to a settlement freeze either before or during the coming negotiations.
Two weeks ago Netanyahu told the cabinet that the Palestinians had rejected his offer of a limited construction freeze in the settlements outside the large blocs instead of a prisoner release.
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