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'Palestinians to release political detainees'

December 24, 2011 18:09

Ma'an news agency reports that Palestinian factions will release most political detainees by year's end.

Khaled Mashaal and Mahmoud Abbas.

Mashaal with Abbas 311 R. (photo credit:Reuters)

Palestinian factions are set to release almost all their political detainees by the end of the year in accordance with the reconciliation agreement reached in Cairo on Thursday, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported Saturday.

“By the end of the year, all political detainees will be released except those who wish to remain in custody for special reasons related to their security both in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip,” Ma'an quoted Munib al-Masri, who participated in the Palestinian reconciliation talks, as saying.

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The security concerns pertaining to detainees who would remain in custody, he said, include both targeted killing by Israel and attacks by competing Palestinian factions before the reconciliation agreement goes into effect.

Thursday’s agreement also paved the way for the establishment of a provisional PLO leadership that would include, for the first time, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other groups. These groups will later become incorporated into various PLO institutions, especially the Palestine National Council, the organization’s parliament-inexile.

The council is the legislative body of the PLO and elects its executive committee, the organization’s main decision-making body.

At Thursday’s discussions in Cairo, the Palestinian leaders agreed to form a committee headed by council Speaker Salim Zanoun to discuss ways of “activating and reconstructing” the PLO so that Hamas and other groups would be incorporated into the organization, Fatah and Hamas officials said.

The committee will hold its first meeting in Amman on January 15.

Following the meeting of the factions, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas issued a presidential decree to establish a new Palestinian Elections Commission that would prepare for presidential and parliamentary elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Khaled Abu Toameh and Herb Keinon contributed to this report.
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