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.
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.
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.
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.
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