Abbas asks Gantz to release security Fatah prisoners, Palestinian sources say

The request was first made in the Ramallah meeting last August to offset the growing political popularity of Hamas and to show Palestinian voters that diplomacy yields better results than violence
Elior Levy|Updated:
Palestinian sources have said that President Mahmoud Abbas requested the release of security prisoners belonging to the Fatah party, who are held by Israel, Defense Minister Benny Gantz during a meeting last August.
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  • The sources told Ynet over the weekend, the request was not reported in the wake of the meeting and was presented by Abbas as a request for a gesture of goodwill.
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    בני גנץ אבו מאזן
    בני גנץ אבו מאזן
    Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas
    (Photo: Avi Moalem, Reuters)
    The two met a second time last December when Gantz hosted the Palestinian president at his home.
    According to the sources, Abbas asked that Israel release 25 members of the Fatah organization that have been held in Israeli jails for decades, with some of whom imprisoned before the signing of the Oslo accords in 1993.
    Gantz told Abbas that he would look into the matter, but the sources believe the current Israeli government would not agree to the release.
    The last time Israel released Palestinian prisoners as a goodwill gesture to Abbas was in 2013, during former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's term. Most of them also were from the Fatah movement and the release was as part of negotiations held at the time to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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    משה תמם ז"ל
    משה תמם ז"ל
    IDF soldier Moshe Tamam murdered in 1984 by Fatah terrorists
    (Photo: Courtesy of Tamam family)
    Among those whose release was agreed upon by Netanyahu, but was ultimately rejected after the negotiations failed, were two Israeli Arab brothers who were jailed for the 1980 murder of Avraham Bromberg. Another prisoner was jailed for the murder of IDF soldier Moshe Tamam in 1984.
    Though their names were not confirmed to have been part of the latest request, it is likely that they were among those named by Abbas.
    The president stressed in his meetings with Gantz the importance of strengthening the Fatah movement to offset the growing popularity of Hamas in the West Bank. Abbas said such a move on the part of Israel would prove to his constituents that diplomacy could achieve better results than the violence carried out by Hamas.
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    הפגנה ותהלוכה לכיוון בית המחבל שביצע את פיגוע הירי בעיר העתיקה ירושלים בו נרצח אלי קיי ז"ל
    הפגנה ותהלוכה לכיוון בית המחבל שביצע את פיגוע הירי בעיר העתיקה ירושלים בו נרצח אלי קיי ז"ל
    A Hamas rally in the Shoafat Refugee camp in Jerusalem in support the alleged terrorist who killed Eliyahu Kaye in the Old City, last November
    Senior officials in the defense establishment said they would not object to the release of certain Fatah prisoners who have already served a decades-long sentence.
    The defense ministry said in response to Ynet's request for confirmation, that they would not comment on the details of private security related meetings.
    Following his meetings with Abbas, Gantz said some confidence building gestures were approved by the ministry towards the PA that included an expedited transfer of hundreds of millions of shekels in taxes and an increase of hundreds of work permits for Palestinians in Israel, as well as the approval of residency for thousands of Palestinians on a humanitarian basis in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip.
    First published: 08:49, 01.30.22
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