Sun Jul 28, 2013 10:24PM
The Israeli cabinet has approved a bill under which more than 100 Palestinian prisoners will be released under certain conditions. Many Palestinians including the family members of the prisoners remain skeptical about the decision. Our correspondent Nel Burdon has the story from Ramallah.
The Israeli cabinet has approved a bill under which any possible agreements with the Palestinians would be put to a referendum. Another issue discussed during the meeting was the proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to release more than 100 Palestinian prisoners who have been held in Israeli jails since or before the signing of the Oslo Accord in 1993. In an interview with Press TV, family members of Palestinian political prisoner Ahmad Farid Shahada, whose name has been on the list of prisoners to be released say they are skeptical about Tel Aviv’s promises. Although Ahmad’s name has been officially listed as one of the prisoners to be released, his family expressed their anxiety and mistrust of Israeli promises. According to the approved bill, the release of prisoners will take place in four stages over several months, with each step linked to progress in the negotiations. The first stage is to take place following the meeting between Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in Washington. As part of the Gaza Jericho agreement in 1994, which was a follow-up treaty to the Oslo Accords, Israeli’s and Palestinians agreed to the freedom of all Palestinian prisoners held prior to the Oslo agreement. Over 4,450 prisoners were released; but prisoners and their advocates have criticized the negotiators for failing the prisoners who were left in Israeli prisons. Although Israel has agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners who were arrested before the Oslo agreement, many Palestinians believe that the focus of the prisoners has become a smokescreen for Israel to ignore the most important pre-conditions of the Palestinian Authority to recognize the state of Palestine based on the pre-1967 borders.