News / Middle East

    Palestinians Prepare for Israel Prisoner Release

    Relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails hold a protest demanding their release in front of the Red Cross office in Gaza City, Oct. 28, 2013.
    Relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails hold a protest demanding their release in front of the Red Cross office in Gaza City, Oct. 28, 2013.
    Scott Bobb
    Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are preparing to welcome home 26 prisoners due to be released by the Israeli government as part of recently revived peace talks. But the release is causing tensions in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's governing coalition.

    Families of the 26 prisoners Monday celebrated the announced release and prepared to hold parties in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

    Most of the prisoners have spent more than 20 years in jail for involvement in attacks on Israeli civilians prior to the 1993 Oslo Agreement that created the Palestinian Authority. Most Israelis consider them to be terrorists but to Palestinians they are heroes of the resistance.

    The Palestinian Authority's Minister for Prisoners, Issa Qaraka, called the release a positive step. He said releasing prisoners deepens the peace process and gives it more legitimacy. And it gives hope for the release of all the Palestinians in Israeli jails.

    It is the second release of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails since peace talks resumed three months ago between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Two more releases are scheduled as part of confidence-building measures before the talks are due to end in six months.

    But families of the some of the Israeli victims protested and threatened legal action.

    Netanyahu's spokesman, Mark Regev, acknowledged that the issue deeply divides Israelis.

    "To release the murderers of innocent civilians is a painful and difficult decision which we are taking only because we want to give the peace talks with the Palestinians a chance," he admitted. "It's high time the Palestinian leadership was also willing to make difficult choices for peace."

    Two parties in Netanyahu's governing coalition tried to block the release but failed to muster the votes to bring it before the Israeli parliament, the Knesset.

    A senior member of one of these, Tourism Minister Uzi Landau of the Israel Our Home party, accuses Palestinian leaders of launching an international campaign against Israel.

    "There's something strange in the fact that as we are negotiating with the Palestinians they go all over Europe asking people to boycott us, describing us as if we were monsters," Landau said. "At the same time they expect that we should continue with our commitments and release murderers who have been convicted."

    The Israeli government also announced it would build more homes in Jewish settlements in the West Bank. This was widely seen as a move to appease critics of the prisoner release.

    A spokesman for the Hamas movement that controls Gaza, Fawzi Barhoum, accused the Israeli government of using the release of prisoners to seize more Palestinian land. Hamas rejects any peace talks with Israel.

    Barhoum said the release of some Palestinian prisoners can't be used to cover the building of 1,700 more houses in Israeli settlements.

    Israel and the Palestinian Authority agreed to resume peace talks in July following several months of shuttle diplomacy by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. The talks have been shrouded in secrecy but Kerry last week said all the outstanding issues are being discussed.

    You May Like

    Post-White House, Obamas to Rent Washington Mansion

    Nine-bedroom home is 3 kilometers from Oval Office, near capital's Embassy Row; rent estimated at around $22,000 a month

    Red Planet? Not so much!

    New research suggest that Mars is in a warm period between cyclical ice ages, and that during Ice Age Maximum over 500,000 years ago, the red planet was decidedly ice, and much whiter to the naked eye.

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: GU 43 from: Russia
    October 29, 2013 8:53 AM
    I agree with Dr V. S., - Israel should come home to mother Russia.
    we fix problem with Iran in five minutes. we fix problem with Arabs in even less than five minutes... all the Philistins back to Jordan - thats it - problem solved.
    Russia jews have been great officers and warriors in the Great Patriotic War. We have been estranged since 1948... too long.

    by: Puck Futin from: USA
    October 29, 2013 8:36 AM
    The Holy Land is the home of Jews and Christians. There is no difference between Jew and Christian. any Jew is welcome in the Church and the might of the whole of Christendom is his sanctuary. God's gifts to His chosen people were meant to enlighten the path of Christ.

    Now, these bloody Arab murderers have killed Israeli children, they have killed American and they have killed Russians. Obama has no right to pressure Israel to commit this act of self sacrifice.

    lastly, I suggest to the Russian guy... Israel and US share a bond of brotherhood and solidarity unequal in the whole catalog of human history - irrespective of who temporarily occupy the "WH." so, cool it... Russia. .. Israel go nowhere!!! and their home is with US.
    you may have Cuba and Ukraine, Latvia and Czechoslovakia... but if you even attempt to touch Israel... our swords will come out... I promise you

    by: Kate from: New York
    October 29, 2013 12:51 AM
    These prisoners are terrorists. They have killed both Israelis and Americans.
    The US has an obligation in US law to bring to justice anyone who has killed Americans. But this administration has not done so.

    by: Kolton M from: Texas
    October 28, 2013 11:39 PM
    As a american, I agree with the russian guy. Putin may be a dick who steals super bowl rings and hate's gay people. But I would rather have him in my corner than the c'urrent WH regime.

    Be careful my Jewish friends, those guys are about to be hero's to there people and they are going to strike again.

    DONT RELEASE THEM. Forget peace talks. The holy land belongs to the Jews.


    by: Dr. V. Samyanov from: Moscow State U.
    October 28, 2013 8:16 PM
    For generations Israel and the United States have shared almost an umbilical link. Israel was far more "American" than many American States. It was stunning for us (former Soviet Union) to see such bonds of cultural affinity, shared industrial sophistication, shared academic research and real shared values of mutual admiration between these two nations. But now I believe the Israelis are beginning to understand that the WH is perfectly willing to place them in mortal jeopardy. And this latest charade that Israel is being forced by the USA to swallow - releasing Arab terrorists convicted of murdering Israelis families should make them realize that the umbilical cord has turned into a noose...

    I believe that Israel should consider strengthening its ties with Russia. Putin has visited Israel more than any President of any nation put together. Over 80 percent of Russian Oligarchs are domiciled in Israel - even Putin has a villa in Israel... Putin is an admirer of Israel... and the whole world by now knows that Russia do not betray her friends... EVER - therefore, I say to Israel, its time to come home.

    by: Hirsch Alter from: College Park, Maryland
    October 28, 2013 4:03 PM
    "Most of the prisoners have spent more than 20 years in jail for involvement in attacks on Israeli civilians" - this statement is not specific enough. All 26 prisoners were involved in attacks that killed Israeli civilians.
    Also, Jerusalem is part of sovereign Israel.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora