JERUSALEM Ñ Israel has prepared a list of more than 400 Palestinians
being prepared for release, despite official misgivings.
Officials said the Israel Security Agency has submitted a list of
prisoners eligible for release under the guidelines of the government of
Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. They said the release includes more than 100
Hamas and Islamic Jihad members.
Sharon has obtained the list and plans to convene the committee for
releasing prisoners on Wednesday. Officials said the list will be released
within the subsequent days and Palestinians could be freed shortly after.
On Sunday, Sharon's office said the committee will be reconvened after
his trip to the United States next week. The statement said the panel
will conduct another evaluation of the criteria by which prisoners are
Sharon and Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas met on Sunday and were
said to have argued over the number of prisoners to be freed. Abbas
demanded a commitment for the release of Palestinians convicted of murdering
Israelis, something Sharon rejected.
"The numbers are not acceptable to us," PA Minister for Prisoner Affairs
Hisham Abdul Razik said. "We agreed that the issue would be in accordance to
a joint panel and not by one side."
Both Abbas and Sharon will meet U.S. President George Bush over the next
10 days. Israel and the PA also agreed to discuss military withdrawal from
the West Bank.
A Cabinet statement quoted Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz as saying that
Israel would continue its security dialogue with the PA "based on the clear
demand that the latter make tangible progress in the
security sphere and in the war on terror."