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PMO completes Fatah prisoners' list
JPost.com Staff
07/03/2007
Pardons pending approval; report: PM promises release of Jewish "Arab-killers."
The Prime Minister's Office has completed a list of 250 Fatah prisoners to be released as per Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's promise to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Sharm e-Sheikh last week, Israel Radio reported. On Wednesday, the list will be discussed with the Justice Ministry director-general, and it will be brought before the cabinet for approval on Sunday. Fatah officials criticized the list, complaining that Israel did not consult the movement before compiling it, and adding that many of the prisoners were scheduled to be released shortly anyway, Israel Radio reported. Meanwhile, right-wing activists and MKs were hoping to see a parallel gesture towards Jewish prisoners, especially those with "blood on their hands," Army Radio reported Tuesday. Shas MKs recently pressured Olmert to work for the release of 25 prisoners who define themselves "ideological prisoners." Specific prisoners mentioned included Ami Popper, convicted of shooting seven Palestinian workers to death in 1990, and members of the Bat Ayin underground. The group planned terror attacks against Palestinian targets. Shmuel Medad, from the Honenu association, which advocates for the release of Jewish prisoners, said the aforementioned prisoners should be set free regardless of pending deals with the Palestinian Authority: "This is not a group of people overcome by impulse who went to rape, rob or steal, they were caught in their condition as the result of generally poor conditions - I do not know a single Jew who was released and returned to activities over which he was charged, convicted and served prison time." The last occurrence when Jewish prisoners who harmed Palestinians were pardoned was in 1999, before the Wye agreements. Then-president Ezer Weizmann shortened the sentences of 14 Jews, just before a deal to release Palestinians. MK Uri Ariel (NU-NRP) opposed tying the release of Jewish prisoners to the release of Palestinians. Echoing Medad, he said those who deserved a pardon should not have to wait for deals with the Palestinians. "If the prime minister thinks that only following a release of Arab [prisoners] he can also release several Jews, it is very grave indeed. Those who deserve a pardon for personal reasons, whatever they may be, should receive it." The Prime Minister's Office, meanwhile, neither confirmed nor denied reports that Olmert recently met with Labor, Trade and Infrastructure Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) and pledged to work on behalf of the Jewish prisoners, including urging the new president to pardon them.
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