Israel's decision to grant amnesty to 32 wanted members of Fatah's military wing, the al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, drew heavy criticism from several Knesset members on Sunday.
Likud MK Yuli Edelstein said the decision to pardon the "Fatah terrorists" indicated that the Israeli government "prefers to bolster Fatah rather than defend the residents of Sderot."
Earlier on Sunday, Palestinian security officials reported that Israel has removed 32 al-Aqsa members from its list of wanted men, including senior organization members, and has extended the probation period of 220 additional wanted men by three months.
About six months ago, Ynet revealed that Israel and the Palestinian Authority had reached an agreement, according to which wanted al-Aqsa members would begin a three-month probation period, and those not involved in terrorist activities during this period would be granted amnesty.
"On the one hand, cabinet ministers make fiery statements on the need to combat terror relentlessly, but on the other hand they compromise and boost those who carry it out," Edelstein added. "Thus, (the government) is encouraging terror and is inviting more attacks (on Israel)."
'This is insane'
Israeli security officials said the recent development was reversible and that Israel would enforce the usual restrictions on any of the pardoned Fatah members who return to their terrorist ways.
"What does 'reversible' mean? That after they go back to killing - and history shows that they will – we will imprison them again? This is insane," National Union-NRP member Zvi Hendel said.
MK David Rotem of Yisrael Beiteinu said the decision to pardon the Fatah gunmen showed that the Israeli government was "continuing in its misguided policy of concessions and instead of eradicating terror it is making gestures that result in Qassam attacks on the south.
On the other side of the political spectrum, Dov Khenin of Hadash said the government's decision "was a small and insufficient step in the right direction," adding that "the way to achieve peace is not through targeted killings, but through negotiations with the Palestinians and their leaders."
Meretz MK Avshalom Vilan said removing the al-Aqsa members from Israel's list of wanted men was "the right thing at the right time.
"Me must work to strengthen the moderate (Palestinian) forces and fight the fundamentalists," he said.