Monday, August 18, 2008

Israel to release 199 prisoners...

The continuing controversy over the release of prisoners from Palestine being held by Israel continues even as it's being announced that 199 Palestinian inmates are being released, one of which has been held since 1970.

Israel's prisons service said the upcoming release would include Said al-Atba, who has served 32 years of a life sentence for planting a bomb, illegal military training and belonging to a banned group. Al-Atba, 57, is the longest serving prisoner held by Israel and he is widely seen by the Palestinian public as a symbol for the prisoners.

This has been discussed for quite a few years, if you flash back to 2004, when it was stated 400 prisoners were going to be released, with al-Atba being one of them, it's clear that many in Palestine won't believe it until they see it happen. It's doubtful this has changed since 2004:
Fadwa Barghouthi, the wife of Marwan Barghouthi, the Secretary General of Fatah in the West Bank who was arrested more than a year ago in 2002, said, “Feelings have been tepid in general because the release of 400 prisoners and detainees will not solve the problem of political prisoners, which now number 7,500. There is great concern in all of the houses of political prisoners regarding this matter.”

Marwan Barghouthi’s name was mentioned many times as someone who Hizballah would ask to have included in the exchange agreement. However, Israel announced its decisive refusal to release him.

In January 2007, Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Shimon Peres declared that he would sign a presidential pardon for Marwan Barghouti if elected to the Israeli presidency. While Peres won? That promise never materialized.

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