Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has decided to honor Palestinian
prisoners who were released in last week’s Gilad Schalit exchange deal by
rewarding them financially, Prisoners Affairs Minister Issa Qaraqi announced
over the weekend.
Hamas representatives, meanwhile, called for kidnapping
more IDF soldiers so they could be traded for the remaining Palestinian
prisoners in Israel.
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Qaraqi said that all prisoners would benefit from
the grants, including those who were deported to the Gaza Strip, a number of
Arab countries or Turkey.
PA governors and some “national institutions”
have begun distributing the money to the released prisoners in accordance with
PA regulations and laws, he said.
Qaraqi did not say how much each
prisoner would get from the PA government.
Abbas’s decision follows a
similar move by Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who decided to give each
prisoner a $2,000 grant.
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Meanwhile, the prisoners who were deported to
the Gaza Strip are staying at a five-star hotel at the expense of the Hamas
Hamas accused the PA security forces in the West Bank of
harassing some of the prisoners who were released last week.
official said that several former prisoners and their families have been
summoned for interrogation by the PA security forces in the northern West
Fathi Qarawi, a Hamas official in the West Bank, urged the PA to
stop harassing the released prisoners and their families, and to “take advantage
of the prisoner swap to achieve Palestinian national unity.”
tensions between Fatah and Hamas, Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal are
expected to meet in Cairo next month to discuss ways of achieving unity, sources
close to the two sides said over the weekend.
Ahmed Ja’bari, commander of
Hamas’s armed wing, Izzadin Kassam, was quoted on Saturday as saying his group
would continue its efforts to kidnap “IDF soldiers and officers,” in a bid to
free all the prisoners from Israel.
“We have taken upon ourselves the
task of cleansing the Israeli prisons [of] all Palestinians, regardless of their
political affiliations,” Ja’bari said. “The day the deal was achieved was the
happiest in my life, because it brought smiles to the homes of many Palestinian
Khalil al-Haya, another senior Hamas official, also threatened
that his group would try to kidnap more soldiers to secure the release of
Addressing Israel during a rally in solidarity
with the released prisoners in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip, Haya
said: “Spare yourself the suffering and release all our prisoners, because they
will be released in the same way we released some of them now.”
al-Sinwar, a top Hamas representative, told the rally that the Palestinians had
no choice but to continue kidnapping soldiers to gain the release of their
prisoners from Israel.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark
Regev said that the manner in which Hamas has put the released prisoners on a
pedestal since their release “has reconfirmed for anyone who needed a reminder
that Hamas is an extreme-terrorist movement that sees every Israeli – men, women
and children – as legitimate targets.
“If anyone in the West had any
illusions about them, we hope what Hamas has done over the last few days will
serve as a wake-up call and show that they have not become more moderate or
To those arguing that as a result of Schalit’s release, the
naval blockade of the Gaza Strip should be lifted, Regev said Hamas’s rhetoric
and actions since the Schalit release have shown that it remains an “extreme
regime, which is waging a war on all Israelis.”
Meanwhile, David Meidan,
who represented the prime minister in the talks that led to the Schalit prisoner
swap, is expected to meet this week with the Shamgar Committee, which is drawing
up guidelines for conducting negotiations for the release of captive
The Shamgar Committee, headed by former Supreme Court justice
Meir Shamgar, was established by Defense Minister Ehud Barak in July 2008 after
the bodies of IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev were returned to
Israel in exchange for terrorist Samir Kuntar, four Hezbollah fighters and the
bodies of nearly 200 Lebanese and Palestinians.
The government held up
publicizing the committee’s recommendations until after a deal for Schalit was
reached. The committee is now expected to present its recommendations to
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Barak within two weeks.
said that once Schalit was released, Israel would need to draw up a new policy
regarding future swaps, making it clear to both to the enemy and the Israeli
public what price Israel would, and would not, be willing to pay in the
After Netanyahu and Barak review the Shamgar recommendations,
they are expected to go to the cabinet for approval, then to the
Abbas on Saturday met with the leader of Egypt’s Supreme
Military Council, praising Cairo’s part in facilitating the deal to release
Schalit, Palestinian news agency WAFA reported.
Abbas told Field Marshal
Mohamed Tantawi that the PA “is relieved that Schalit’s file is finally closed,
because it was being used as an excuse by Israel and other parties to hinder the
According to the report, the two leaders also discussed
steps to secure the release of the nine female Palestinian prisoners in Israeli
jails who were not freed in the Schalit deal.
Jerusalem Post staff
contributed to this report.
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