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In a "goodwill gesture" to Jordan's King Abdullah II, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will bring to the cabinet on Sunday a proposal to transfer four Jordanians who killed two IDF soldiers in 1990 to Jordanian jails.
Three of the prisoners infiltrated from Jordan in November 1990 and, in a firefight with the IDF, killed Capt. Yehuda Lifshitz. Six days later, another infiltrator crossed the border, infiltrated an IDF outpost, and killed Sgt. Pinhas Levy.
The four men were convicted and sentenced to life in prison. They have served 17 years of their sentence. The Jordanians have for years been pressing Israel to allow them to serve out their sentences in Jordanian prisons.
Sources in the Prime Minister's Office said that Olmert began considering the request in November, and that it was raised again during his visit to Turkey in February. He decided to bring the proposal to the cabinet now, following the Sharm e-Sheikh summit which Abdullah attended, as a sign of appreciation for his continued full cooperation in battling terrorism.
Though Israel and Jordan don't have an extradition treaty, letters have been passed back and forth between the capitals with assurances that the four men will continue serving their sentences, and not be released. Jordan is keen on having them serve their time there so that they will be able to have visits from relatives, Israeli officials said.
This proposal will be brought to the cabinet on the same day that Olmert plans to bring his proposal to release 250 Fatah prisoners, as a good will gesture to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.
Olmert, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter write in the proposal that they are requesting the four be released "taking into consideration the peaceful and special relations" between Jordan and Israel, and taking into consideration "the request by the Jordanian government."
Israel has released Jordanian prisoners in the past, most recently when former prime minister Ariel Sharon released seven Jordanians in 2005, and when he released 10 Jordanians a year earlier in the swap for Elhanan Tannenbaum.
The Justice Ministry informed the families of the victims, Lifshitz and Levy, of the intention to transfer the four to Jordan, in order to give the families an opportunity to register their objections, which will also be brought to the cabinet for deliberation.