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Israel SC dismiss plea against release of Palestine prisoners

Press Trust of India

Last Updated: August 13, 2013, 18:36 IST

Israel SC dismiss plea against release of Palestine prisoners

Israel's Supreme Court, on Tuesday, dismissed a petition opposing the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, clearing the final hurdle for the goodwill gesture on the eve of second round of US-brokered fragile peace talks between the Jewish nation and Palestinian Authority.

Israel's Supreme Court, on Tuesday, dismissed a petition opposing the release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, clearing the final hurdle for the goodwill gesture on the eve of second round of US-brokered fragile peace talks between the Jewish nation and Palestinian Authority.

The court's approval, following a heated but affirmative vote by the government last week, sets the stage for pardoning the long-term prisoners and releasing them tonight, Israel Prisons Services officials said.  In an official statement today, Supreme Court President Asher Grunis wrote, "There is no dispute that the issue at hand is difficult and sensitive. Our hearts go out to the families of the terror victims."  The Supreme Court deliberated on the petition on Sunday, a few hours before the ministerial committee finalised the list of 26 prisoners to be released as part of Israel's good will gestures to the Palestinians ahead of the resumption of peace talks.  "The government is authorised to appoint a ministerial committee which will look into various issues regarding prisoners' release," Grunis said adding that several times in the past court has granted government "the authority to determine that all decisions regarding prisoners' release will be made in a small ministerial committee."

The judges dismissed the petitioners' claim that the decision to release terrorists is unreasonable and incompatible with the policies determined by previous Israeli governments.  "Decisions regarding prisoners' release, specifically such that are made in the process of diplomatic negotiations, are strictly within the jurisdiction of the government, as it is responsible for foreign affairs and national security," Grunis emphasised.

Almagor Terror Victim's Association, which had filed the petition challenging the release of the prisoners, responded to the Court's decision, saying "the bereaved families see this as proof that the Prime Minister's immoral politics have penetrated the halls of the court."  "The Supreme Court today closed the door before bereaved families and Jewish victims of terror, something it has not done to Palestinians," said Almagor.

Almagor added that Court had erased the status of victims while granting protection to terrorists.  Almagor termed the suspension of building of the security barrier and acquiescence to requests for stopping certain interrogation and arrest procedures as examples of the court's bending to the will of the Palestinians.

Israel's decision to build new settler homes in the West Bank and east Jerusalem has eroded the faith in the talks among Palestinians and several others find the stagewise release of 104 Palestinians prisoners, depending on the progress in talks, as demeaning.

Palestinians had made total freeze over settlement activities a pre-condition for talks to begin, an issue that had led to a three year deadlock in peace talks.

Israel says the housing projects are meant to accommodate "natural growth" in population in these settlements and insists on keeping in its control large settlement blocs in the West Bank as part of any peace negotiation.

Peace talks between the two sides had fallen apart three years ago on the question of settlements with PA demanding a complete freeze on settler activity but Israel insisted on continuing in order to accommodate natural growth of population in the settlement blocs.

PA insists on a return to pre-1967 borders.

first published:August 13, 2013, 18:36 IST
last updated:August 13, 2013, 18:36 IST