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

US Gives Malaysia Questionable Upgrade in Human Trafficking Ranks

Malaysia’s upgrade seen as removing barrier to country’s participation in the US-led 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership More

Turkey, US Try to Establish Buffer Despite Differences

Coalition airstrikes in proposed zone would aim to drive out Islamic extremists, allowing targeted area to come under sway of anti-Assad rebels More

Video US: Millions Exploited by Vast Fortunes of Human Trafficking

State Department's annual report calls exploitation 'modern slavery,' brutalizing girls, women into prostitution and forcing men, women and children into low-wage jobs across the globe More

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.
US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Wini
X
July 28, 2015 12:21 AM
The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Obama Encourages Kenya to Fix Cultures of Corruption, Discrimination

President Barack Obama bid farewell to Kenya Sunday with a major speech at as stadium outside the capital Nairobi where he called on Kenyans to change the cultures of corruption and discrimination that can hold society back. VOA East Africa Correspondent Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video California Towns Welcome Special Olympics Athletes

Cities and towns in Southern California are greeting thousands of athletes who are arriving for Special Olympics, a competition for people with intellectual disabilities. The games will run from July 25th through August 2nd. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, where athletes from Namibia, Singapore and Tanzania got a rousing welcome from local residents.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.
Video

Video Hoverbike Flying Toward Reality

Another long-standing dream of many technological inventors is quickly approaching reality: U.S.- and British-based firms are cooperating in the development of an individual flying platform they call a hoverbike. They say it may revolutionize the concept of flying, including in the U.S. military. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video As Japan Expands Defense Role, Protests Follow

The Japanese government is moving forward with a controversial security bill that would authorize the military to fight abroad for the first time since World War II. Leaders say it is critical to defend against rising threats from China and North Korea. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Japan on the big changes ahead, and the opposition they are drawing.
Video

Video Replacing Poppies with Coffee in Myanmar

The remote mountains of Myanmar’s Shan state are home to the second-largest opium-producing region in the world. After a drop during the 2000s, production surged in the past eight years to feed an increasing demand for heroin in China. But farmers are now making less on the crop, and the U.N. is hoping many will make the switch to growing coffee. Daniel de Carteret reports for VOA from Taunggyi.

VOA Blogs