JERUSALEM, The Israeli government’s decision to release 104 Palestinian prisoners has provoked violent reactions in the country, especially among the families of victims of terrorist attacks. The survivors protested, but their appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court on Tuesday. The first group of 26 prisoners should be released on Tuesday evening.
Israel is about to release the prisoners under an agreement to resume Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Their second round will take place on Wednesday in Jerusalem and Jericho.
The government sympathizes with the bereaved, but does not allow itself to speak until it decides
“Our hearts are with the family members of the victims of terror, whose great pain we cannot alleviate,” the DPA quoted Jerusalem as saying.
However, the release of the prisoners is said to be a government decision in which one cannot interfere.
Demand by Palestinian President
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has demanded the release of those in Israel for 19 to 30 years, mostly for murderous attacks, as a condition of resuming talks. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has not committed to freezing construction in Israeli settlements in the Palestinian territories, which the Palestina side had previously insisted on.
Both sides pushed the United States to negotiate, and a preparatory meeting took place more than two weeks ago in Washington. It is to be followed by nine months of peace talks aimed at breaking the more than three-year paralysis of the peace process.
Under a convention negotiated with US Secretary of State John Kerry, the Israeli government approved the release of prisoners in four groups within a few months. Each phase of the redundancies should be linked to progress in the negotiations.
They have blood on their hands, but there is no other way
The names of the convicts from the first group were published by Israel on Sunday evening. He thus fulfilled the legal condition stipulating a period of 48 hours for possible appeals.
The Israeli government has agreed to release the convicts, although this move is not well received by the public and part of the governing coalition. Until now, she has always resisted giving freedom to people with the blood of Israel. This time, however, it is a gesture to facilitate peace talks.
Construction of new settlements
On the contrary, the announced approval of the government to build new flats in Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem may complicate the negotiators’ position. Israel announced its final approval for the construction of a thousand new apartments on Sunday, today Jerusalem City Hall approved a plan to build another, almost a thousand apartments in East Jerusalem.
The Israeli media attribute the timing of these steps to efforts to appease the hard wing of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition, outraged by Israel’s supportive gesture towards the Palestinians in the form of the release of prisoners. But left-wing opposition calls it a provocation against the Palestinians and the United States and a sabotage of ongoing peace talks.