After three years in an Israeli prison, Palestinian Parliament Chairman Aziz Dweik, of Hamas, is set to be released. The decision was made Wednesday when a military court of appeals rejected a request to extend Dweik's remand by six months.
Dweik's wife told a Palestinian news agency that she was surprised by the decision to release her husband. "I hope the other Palestinian prisoners will be released along with him," she added.
Dweik, 60, was considered a key asset in negotiations to secure the release of IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, who was kidnapped in 2006. He was arrested as part of a group of senior Hamas officials who were detained following the kidnapping. Dweik is regarded as one of the most senior Palestinian officials ever to be detained by Israel.
Since 2006, Dweik served as chairman of the Palestinian parliament, a position which made him in effect Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's stand-in. He has authored a doctoral dissertation on urban planning from an American university and also served as a professor at A-Najah University in Nablus. When Abbas's term was extended several months ago without holding elections, some Hamas seniors threatened to unilaterally declare Dweik president.