Peres busy with Schalit deal paperwork

President receives list of prisoners to prepare pardons that will permit their release in exchange for Schalit.

Palestinian prisoners on a bus before release [file] 311 (R) (photo credit: Yannis Behrakis / Reuters)
Palestinian prisoners on a bus before release [file] 311 (R)
(photo credit: Yannis Behrakis / Reuters)
Staff members in the legal department of the bureau of President Shimon Peres have been burning the midnight oil to process some 200 files of Palestinian prisoners, convicted on various charges of terrorism, who are to receive pardons in exchange for the release of hijacked soldier Gilad Schalit.
According to the president’s spokeswoman, Ayelet Frish, the legal department worked through the night on Sunday and all day and night Monday to prepare the necessary paperwork.
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Frish said that in effect, the prisoners are not being pardoned.
Instead their sentences are being commuted.
In fact, Peres has decided to attach a statement to each commutation that he signs declaring that he neither forgets nor forgives, but that the sentence has been commuted for a specific reason.
In 2008, he attached a similar letter to the commutation document of child murderer Samir Kuntar, who was released in exchange for the bodies of Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
Peres made it clear at the time that his decision to sign the commutation was in no way to be interpreted as forgiveness.
Peres has insisted that each document that the legal department prepares for his signature be accompanied by details of the crime committed and the sentence handed down.
Peres will sign the commutations for prisoners from Gaza and from within Israel, while the head of Central Command will sign the commutations for prisoners from Judea and Samaria.
Because he is studying each case before signing the document of commutation, Peres canceled his participation on Monday night in the official countdown ceremony at the Azrieli tower in Tel Aviv for the vote to include the Dead Sea as one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. The Dead Sea has reached the finals, and a monitor at the top of the Azrieli building will record the days, hours and minutes left to vote before the November 11 announcement of the winners.
Peres will also spend a little less time than originally intended with members of the public who accept the annual invitation to visit the president’s succa on Sunday morning. However he will start meeting people earlier than planned and will be shaking hands with visitors as early as 8 a.m. But he will not spend much time mingling, because he has to get back to studying the commutations. He will give two brief addresses to the public, one at 10 a.m. and the other at 11.15 a.m.
He is due to meet with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu just prior to the exchange. The documents will not be made available to the prisoners until it is known for a fact that Gilad Schalit is no longer in Gaza.
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