.contact us |.about us
News > International News ... ...
Israeli release of Palestinian prisoners backfires
( 2003-08-06 11:50) (Agencies)

Israel's plans to release more than 300 Palestinian prisoners on Wednesday in what it said was a gesture to promote peace backfired when Palestinians rejected the measure as a sham.

Instead of boosting confidence in the U.S.-backed peace plan, the release fueled distrust between the two sides and led to the cancellation of talks between Israeli leader Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas.

The Palestinians want an amnesty for all 6,000 of their jailed compatriots, saying this would show Israel was committed to the road map charting a course toward ending three years of violence and creating a Palestinian state by 2005.

Israel, saying Palestinians involved in attacks on its citizens would remain behind bars, announced it would release 339 prisoners, including some 30 who were due to complete their sentences this month anyway.

Palestinian leaders spoke of Israeli deceit. Top officials of militant groups that declared on June 29 a three-month cease-fire in an uprising for statehood said their patience was running out.

"It is worthless," senior Hamas official Ismail Abu Shanab said about the release. "Priority should be given to long-serving prisoners. We do not accept...Sharon's tricks."

But officials from Hamas and another militant group, Islamic Jihad, did not threaten to truncate the truce in remarks to reporters after meetings with Abbas in Gaza on Tuesday.

The road map does not mention a prisoner release but requires implementation of a previous plan which called for release of "all Palestinians arrested in security sweeps who have no association with terrorist activities."


The army said the prisoners, including one woman, would be freed simultaneously at around 2:30 p.m. (7:30 a.m. EDT) at four West Bank checkpoints and at the Erez border crossing in the Gaza Strip. It said another 99 prisoners would be released soon.

"Israel is making gestures and in response getting complaints," said Gideon Meir, deputy director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry.

"The Palestinians are trying all kinds of excuses not to implement their part (of the peace plan) which is very simple -- to dismantle their infrastructure of terror," he said.

Palestinian officials say such a crackdown on militants would spark civil war.

In Crawford, Texas, where President Bush is vacationing at his ranch, U.S. officials said he and his top aides are seeking to keep up the momentum of the peace plan.

Bush and his aides, the officials said, were pressing Israel to reroute a security barrier in the West Bank and Palestinians to follow through on commitments to disarm militants.

Israel wants the barrier -- in parts a concrete wall and in others metal fencing -- to keep out Palestinian suicide bombers. Palestinians describe it as a new "Berlin Wall" that grabs territory deep in the West Bank which they want for a state.

Bush has called the barrier "a problem." Sharon told him at the White House last week that Israel would keep building it but with Palestinian concerns in mind.

Straining relations with the Palestinians further, Israel extended on Tuesday its two-year-old closure of Orient House, the Palestine Liberation Organization's headquarters in Israeli-annexed East Jerusalem, for another six months.

  Today's Top News   Top International News
+The next great leap after Shenzhou V
( 2003-10-21)
+Hu calls for balanced development
( 2003-10-21)
+Report: SARS not airborne virus
( 2003-10-21)
+Japan urged to resolve weapons issue
( 2003-10-21)
+Int'l AIDS group opens Beijing office
( 2003-10-21)
+US hopes Iraq fund will attract donors
( 2003-10-21)
+Bolivia ex-president vows to return
( 2003-10-21)
+UN report: US war on terror radicalizes Arabs
( 2003-10-21)
+Israel raids in Gaza kill 10, wound 100
( 2003-10-21)
+EU ministers arrive in Iran for nuclear talks
( 2003-10-21)
  Go to Another Section  
  Article Tools  
        .contact us |.about us
  Copyright By chinadaily.com.cn. All rights reserved