Panel on prisoner release criteria reformed

Committee will look at possibility of allowing more flexibility regarding which prisoners to release in exchange for Schalit.

Gilad Schalit 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Gilad Schalit 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The cabinet reconstituted a committee on Sunday that will look at the possibility of allowing more flexibility regarding which prisoners to release in exchange for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit, government sources said. The panel will be headed by Vice Premier Haim Ramon, and include Public Security Minister Avi Dichter, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann and Minister-without-Portfolio Ami Ayalon. The committee will take another look at the definition of prisoners with "blood on their hands" who are not to be released, according to the sources. The cabinet decided in 2002 that there would be no early releases of prisoners with "blood on their hands," a definition that included not only those who personally detonated the explosives or pulled the trigger in attacks in which people were murdered or wounded, but also those who dispatched or otherwise aided and abetted them. With the negotiations through Egypt with Hamas for the release of Schalit reportedly stuck on the names on a list of 450 security prisoners Hamas is demanding in return for the soldier, there has been discussion of being more flexible with the definition, including taking off the "blood on their hands" list terrorists who organized and dispatched others to carry out attacks that failed. Israel has reportedly only agreed to 70 of the names on the list. The committee, the government sources said, would also discuss criteria for releasing Palestinian prisoners as gestures to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert told Abbas when they met last in July in Paris that he would release an undetermined number of Palestinian prisoners. Also on Sunday, the cabinet approved the release of five security prisoners as the final stage of the deal with Hizbullah for IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, whose bodies were returned last month. The five, aged 15 and 16, were arrested for rock throwing, and were set to be released in the coming months. They will be released from Israeli prisons in the near future and return to their homes in the West Bank. The three-part deal for Goldwasser and Regev worked out through the UN included, as the final stage, the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners. The main part of the deal was the return of the bodies of Goldwasser and Regev in exchange for terrorist Samir Kuntar, four Hizbullah gunmen and the bodies of nearly 200 infiltrators and terrorists from Lebanon.