Israel prisoner list disappoints Palestinians

 

Israel published on the Internet today a list of 342 Palestinian prisoners it plans to release on Wednesday in a bid to bolster a US-backed peace plan and reformist Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

Palestinians cried foul, noting Israeli officials had said 540 prisoners would be freed. They want a general release of all the 6,000 Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails.

"This is deceit," said Mr Hisham Abdel-Razek, the Palestinian minister for prisoner affairs. Publication of the roster, which included 31 men who were due to complete their sentences this month, was aimed at giving anyone opposed to a prisoner's release time to appeal to Israel's Supreme Court to keep him in jail.

Israel gave no explanation why only 342 prisoners - 183 convicted by Israeli courts of activities ranging from stone-throwing to membership in "terrorist organisations" and 159 detained without trial - were being released.

Israeli Defence Minister Mr Shaul Mofaz, responding to a Palestinian shooting attack that wounded a Jewish settler and her three children yesterday, said there would be no further releases or West Bank pullbacks until Mr Abbas reined in militants.

Militants have said anything short of a general release of all Palestinian prisoners could jeopardise the three-month truce they declared on June 29th in an uprising for statehood.

Convicted prisoners' sentences ranged from four months for throwing stones to 15 years in jail for "activity in Islamic Jihad".

A spokesman for the Organisation of Israel Terror Victims, a group representing the families of Israelis wounded or killed in Palestinian attacks, said it was "studying the list for any specific names we might object to".