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Abbas. Reconciliation? Photo: AP
Abbas. Reconciliation? Photo: AP
 
 

Report: Abbas to release hundreds of Hamas prisoners

Source in Palestinian organization say PA president announced decision to release prisoners as goodwill gesture to Hamas. PA officials clarify they won't release inmates who may endanger residents, try and carry out terror attacks in Israel

Ali Waked
Published: 01.03.09, 14:27 / Israel News

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has informed the Palestinian organizations that he plans to release hundreds of Hamas prisoners jailed in prisons in the West Bank, sources in Hamas claimed Saturday.

 

Abbas' office has yet to respond to the report.

 

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According to the report, Abbas is interested in making a goodwill gesture ahead of a possible renewal of the talks between the Palestinian factions and on the backdrop of the Israel Defense Forces' offensive against the terror organizations in Gaza.

 

It's unclear whether the release will include all the Hamas members jailed in Palestinian Authority prisons, or only those who were not involved in activities against the Palestinian authorities.

 

Various Palestinian organizations have demanded in recent days that the PA release the hundreds of Hamas prisoners jailed in the West Bank, in light of the IDF operation and in a bid to solve the differences between Fatah and Hamas ahead of a possible reconciliation.

 

Many Hamas prisoners have claimed that they were only arrested due to their political affiliation with the movement, while sources in the PA and Abbas associates have said that the men were involved in attempts to build cells and armed Hamas organizations in the West Bank, as part of the group's attempt to undermine the stability of the Fatah regime in the region.

 

Those arrested in the PA prisons include Hamas activists, students affiliated with the organization, members of city councils and relatives of the organization's leaders.

 

PA officials have said that this move does not guarantee an immediate renewal of a dialogue between the sides, but that the move was necessary in light of the events in the Strip.

 

They also noted that as far as they were concerned, prisoner who may endanger the West Bank's residents or try and carry out terror attacks in Israel would not be freed.

 

Hamas' demand for the release of the movement's prisoners in the West Bank was the official reason for the organization's boycott of the talks which were scheduled to take place in Egypt in November.

 

Movement members explained that the PA's failure to admit that it has been arresting Hamas men in the West Bank proved that Abbas was not working towards reconciliation. Hamas made it clear that as long as the PA were to hold on to these prisoners, there was no point in a dialogue.

 

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