Israel to Release three Palestinian Inmates Monday

Published June 18th, 2000 - 02:00 GMT

Israel will release on Monday three Palestinian prisoners jailed for attacks that wounded dozens of Israelis, a prisons official said Sunday, but the Palestinians insisted all detainees should be freed. 

"They will be released tomorrow if everything goes to plan," a prisons authority spokeswoman told AFP. 

The decision to free the three -- who are serving sentences of between eight and 27 years for anti-Israeli attacks -- was made at a meeting of Prime Minister Ehud Barak's security cabinet last week. 

But the Palestinians are demanding that all of the some 1,650 prisoners held in Israeli jails be released. 

"It's not acceptable to release just three prisoners," Palestinian minister for prisoners Hisham Abdel Razek told AFP. "What we want from Israel is to implement the agreements and release more prisoners. 

The issue is highly emotive, with the Palestinians regarding the detainees as political prisoners fighting against Israeli occupation, while Israel is reluctant to free those with Israeli "blood on their hands." 

The Palestinians last week suspended talks with Israel on outstanding interim issues because of a dispute over the prisoners and the scope and timetable for a promised further Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank. 

Senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erakat said earlier this month that Israel was prepared to free all Palestinian prisoners once the two sides sign a framework peace deal. 

Demonstrations calling for the release of the detainees deteriorated into deadly rioting and gun-battles across the Palestinian territories last month. 

Two of the men to be released are from east Jerusalem, which Israel occupied and annexed in 1967, the prisons authority said. 

Mahmoud Juma was sentenced in 1993 to eight years in jail for a grenade attack that injured five Israelis and Shadi Aziz Ali was jailed for 16 years in 1994 for an attack in which two Israelis were wounded. 

The third man, Balal Abdel Karim from the Palestinian-ruled West Bank town of Jericho, was sentenced to 27 years in 1990 for two attacks that wounded 30 Israelis -- OCCUPIED JERUSALEM (AFP)  

© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)

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