Israel approves release of 170 Palestinian prisoners as ”gesture of goodwill” to Mubarak
A special ministerial committee headed by Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon on Sunday approved the release of 170 Palestinian prisoners. Israel had promised the release to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, in exchange for the release two weeks ago of an Israeli spy, Azzam Azzam.
Sharon said that the background of the Palestinian prisoner release was, "a gesture of goodwill, friendship and gratitude to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak for his decision to release Azzam Azzam."
125 Fatah activists will be released along with 50 Palestinians arrested in Israel without legal entry permits.
Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and Shin Bet internal security service director Avi Dichter objected to the release of another 30 prisoners. According to Israel Radio, the Palestinian prisoners are slated to be released next week.
Azzam Azzam, who was jailed since 1996 for spying on Egypt, was released earlier this month in a prisoner swap, and returned to Israel.
© 2004 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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