PLC prisoners frozen out

Despite their new status, the prisoners who were elected to the Palestinian Legislative Council won't be allowed to take part in Saturday's swearing-in ceremony or carry out their roles as parliamentarians, said Prisons Service (IPS) spokesman Ofer Lefler. "In the IPS they are simply prisoners," he told The Jerusalem Post. "They don't have any privileges that other prisoners don't have. They won't receive extra telephone calls and they won't have the possibility of taking part in any votes. It is very nice that they have been chosen, but they are like all the others." The party most affected is Hamas, which in theory has 74 seats, but in reality will have only 65 elected members to start off with, as nine of them are in jail. The most prominent Hamas prisoner-parliamentarian is Hassan Yousef, 51, who was arrested in September during a roundup of more than 200 Palestinians following a wave of rocket attacks. A security official said the majority had "blood on their hands." Of the Fatah prisoners, Marwan Barghouti is the most important, having been chosen to head the party list despite serving five life sentences for his involvement in terrorist attacks that killed five civilians. Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine head Ahmad Saadat, who was involved in the assassination of tourism minister Rehavam Ze'evi in 2003, is imprisoned in Jericho under international supervision.