Prisoners 298.88 AP good.
(photo credit: AP)
The cabinet is expected on Sunday to approve in principle the release of 250 Fatah security prisoners, but the actual list of names is being revised and will be brought to the ministers for approval at a later date, possibly in a week's time.
Olmert has rejected the list drawn up by a committee with representatives from the Justice Ministry, the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) that was to have been presented to ministers at Sunday's cabinet meeting.
The delay in submitting the list followed criticism from Fatah officials that many of the prisoners were scheduled to be released shortly anyway. This is the second time a vote on releasing the prisoners has been delayed.
The prisoner release is designed to shore up support among Palestinians for PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the new government headed by Prime Minister Salaam Fayad.
Olmert made the surprise announcement about the impending Fatah prisoner release at the Sharm e-Sheikh summit last month. He said that the prisoners would be members of Fatah who "did not have blood on their hands," i.e. prisoners who had not personally participated in lethal terrorist attacks.
An official in the Prime Minister's Office said the aim was to strengthen Palestinian moderates and sideline the extremists. "The message from Israel is that it is worthwhile and there is a real benefit to the moderates in achieving progress toward a two-state solution," the source said, adding that "the Palestinians could expect a much more widespread prisoner release if the extremists don't use violence to achieve their aims."