Aharonovitch. Unimpressed by IPS warnings
Photo: Reuters
Netanyahu. Change of mind
Photo: AFP
Gilad Shalit. Talks stalemated
Photo: Reuters
Noam Shalit. Less talk, more action
Photo: Dudu Azoulay
Minister determined to toughen Palestinian prisoners' conditions
Prime Minister Netanyahu removes his objection to new bill aimed at pressuring Hamas, but Israel Prison Service officials fear it will lead to revolt within jails. Internal Security Minister Aharonovitch says decision will not be influenced by possible riots
Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is determined to advance a new bill aimed at toughening the condition of Palestinian prisoners jailed in Israel, despite the Israel Prison Service's objection.


The new limitations are meant to pressure Hamas to advance the talks on a prisoner exchange deal with Israel, which will lead to the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.


Meanwhile, a ministerial committee discussion of the bill, which was scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed by two weeks.


Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser and Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman asked Knesset Members Danny Danon and Yariv Levin (Likud) – who submitted the new bill after the original motion sparked a row about a year ago – to postpone the discussion. They explained that the prime minister, Justice Ministry and Public Security Ministry must be allowed to form a clear stance on the matter.


Ynet first reported last week that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed his objection to the bill. The proposal includes canceling the prisoners' academic studies, forcing them to wear a uniform, removing cable TV stations and denying visits from their relatives and lawyers.


The Justice and Public Security ministries have begun forming their stand on the matter and discussing the bill with the relevant elements, including the defense establishment, the IPS and the prime minister's special representative on the Shalit issue, Hagai Hadas. Hadas submitted a recommendation to the Public Security Ministry, stating that aggravating the conditions would put Hamas under pressure.


Hagai Hadas believes bill will pressure Hamas (Archive photo: Reuters)


The proposal was opposed by elements in the IPS, who said the expected limitations may lead to a revolt within the prisons. Sources close to Aharonovitch, however, told Ynet that the decision would not be based on the recommendations of the professional ranks and would not be influenced by possible riots, and that the minister was prepared to deal with any escalation.


'Prison atmosphere' may be affected

The two ministries are expected to form a final and uniform stand on the matter within the next two weeks, and decide whether to advance the private bill and revise it during its enactment procedure, or submit an alternative governmental bill.


In the meantime, it appears that most elements have removed their objections, although a source in the Prime Minister's Office has noted that "the Israel Prison Service still has its reservations. It fears that such a law would affect the atmosphere in the prisoners, and therefore the matter must be examined thoroughly."


Gilad Shalit's father, Noam, told Ynet on Saturday night: "In principle, I am not in favor of aggravating prisoners' conditions, but rather in favor of giving conditions to all prisoners. I am in favor of Gilad having the same conditions other prisoners have, including security prisoners. I try not to give advice to decision makers, and definitely not through the media. They should know what to do."


Shalit noted that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had also appointed a committee to examine the matter in the past. "I have heard about it, recently too. But this is not something that has been done. I care about results – less talk, more action," he said.


Attila Somfalvi and Sharon Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 05.09.10, 07:35
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