Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef has given his consent to the early release from prison of a Palestinian who planned his assassination, Ynet reported Sunday.
In 2009, Nicolas Sarkozy asked Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to free Salah Hamouri, who holds French citizenship, as a "goodwill gesture." The French president hoped that Hamouri, 26, could be rehabilitated in France.
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Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said, "Rabbi Yosef appreciates the French president's actions for the benefit of the State of Israel and the Jewish community in France. Therefore, as part of his general outlook and concern for the Jewish nation, he has decided to grant the request."
Rabbi Yosef (L) with French ambassador and Yishai (Photo:Gil Yohanan)
Sarkozy had asked Netanyahu to include Hamouri in the list of 550 Palestinian prisoners that Israel has pledged to release as part of the Shalit prisoner exchange deal, but Netanyahu replied that he needed Rabbi Yosef's consent to allow the move.
French Ambassador to Israel Christophe Bigot thanked Yosef and Yishai for the humanitarian gesture and invited the rabbi to visit France as Sarkozy's guest.
Hamouri was convicted in 2005, and his jail sentence was scheduled to end in a few months.
Addressing France's refusal to extradite two Frenchmen responsible for a hit and run car accident that killed 25-year-old Israeli Lee Zeituni in Tel Aviv last September, the ambassador said, "Israel is not a member of the European Union, so we cannot extradite the (two Frenchmen).
"France would have acted in the same manner had (the extradition request) been submitted by the US or Switzerland," he claimed, adding that France was committed to putting the men on trial.