Netanyahu rejects early release of Palestinian prisoners
Israel has rejected a request by the Palestinian Authority and United States to bring forward the planned release of a second group of Palestinian prisoners, Israeli daily Haaretz reported.
The PA wanted the second prisoner release to coincide with the Eid al-Adha holiday, which begins next week. Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he would not advance the release date and will stick with the original timetable of October 29, Haaretz said.
The Israeli government approved the release of long-serving Palestinian prisoners in August to coincide with the resumption of peace talks.
The first group of 26 veteran prisoners, including 17 who had life sentences, took place on August 14. The remaining prisoners will be released on Oct. 29, Dec. 29 and March 28.
The planned releases stirred protests from Israeli victims' families, settlers and Netanyahu's hardline coalition partners.
Leader of the Jewish Home party, Naftali Bennet, calling the proposed prisoner release a "disgrace" and said "terrorists should be eliminated, not freed."
The PA minister of detainees said Israel's decision to release Palestinian prisoners was an important step for promoting peace.
There are currently 5,007 Palestinians in Israeli prisons and detention centers, including 137 people held without trial, 12 women and 180 children, according to Addameer prisoners group.