Israel to release Palestinian prisoners

Israel has approved the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture towards Egypt after it released an Israeli Druze last week who had been jailed for espionage.

    There are currently about 8000 Palestinians in Israeli jails

    It is still unclear how many of the estimated 8000 Palestinians being held by Israel will be released, although Israel public radio said no prisoners "with blood on their hands" would be freed.

     

    Walid al-Umari, Aljazeera's correspondent in Palestine,

    reported that 100 to 200 prisoners are expected to be released.

     

    He said: "The procedures for freeing the Palestinian prisoners will be carried out before the end of December."


    Al-Umari added that only prisoners whose sentence is about to end would be freed.


    Prisoners exchanged

     

    A statement issued by the Israeli prime minister's office after the release of Azzam Azzam last week said Ariel Sharon had "ordered

    the relevant security authorities to consider the possibility of shortening the prison terms of Palestinian prisoners in accordance

    with previously determined criteria".


    Azzam served seven years in an 
    Egyptian jail on spying charges

    Azzam, who served seven years of a 15-year sentence for spying charges,

    was freed in an exchange which also saw six Egyptians accused of

    planning to kidnap and kill Israeli soldiers returning to

    their homeland.


    Palestinian negotiations minister Saib Uraiqat, meanwhile, called

    for talks with Israel to reach agreement on who should be freed.

     

    "We ask the Israeli side to hold a meeting with our minister of

    prisoner affairs [Hisham Abd al-Raziq] to discuss and agree on the

    list of prisoners that should be released," he said.

    SOURCE: Aljazeera + Agencies


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