The Palestinian Authority is set to ignore High Court order to release the jailed leader of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), who is wanted by Israel following the killing of a cabinet minister.
The Palestinian cabinet said Monday night it would keep Sa'adat in jail despite the order. In a statement, the cabinet expressed "respect for the High Court of Justice decision" but said its ruling to release Sa'adat "cannot be implemented under these circumstances because of Israeli threats."
Earlier, Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon responded to the court ruling by saying that Israel had "taken all the necessary steps so that it will not be possible to release a person who was involved in murder, who ordered murder, and whose organization carries out murders to this day."
Sharon added that Israel would ensure that Sa'adat would not go free.
On Monday noon, the three-judge court in the Gaza Strip said there was no evidence linking Sa'adat to the assassination of Israeli Tourism Minister Rehavam Zeevi last October.
Sa'adat is being held in jail in the West Bank town of Jericho under the supervision of U.S. and British monitors along with four men convicted in the assassination of Zeevi.
Sa'adat and the men convicted in the assassination of Zeevi were transferred to jail in Jericho in April under an internationally brokered deal that ended the siege of Yasser Arafat's headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
As expected, Israel condemned as "very serious" the Palestinian court. "This decision is very serious. If it ends up that (the decision) is applied and he is freed, we will demand his extradition. He is an assassin," an Israeli spokesman, Raanan Gissin told AFP.(Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)