PM Office: Israel-Palestinian prisoners deal is gesture to Abbas

Netanyahu’s spokesperson says PA president requested Israel’s cooperation to end the hunger strike; official says Israel watching how PA handles re-interment of Palestinian bodies released in the agreement.

 

Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s spokesman Mark Regev said on Monday that Israel negotiated the deal ending the hunger strike of some 1,600 Palestinian prisoners in Israel in response to a request from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu - Photo: Gali Tibbon/Pool

“It is our hope that this gesture by Israel will serve to build confidence between the parties and advance peace,” he said.

The prisoner strike issue was discussed Saturday night when Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak Molcho delivered a letter from Netanyahu to Abbas. In addition to resolving the prisoner strike, Abbas also asked that Israel return 100 bodies of Palestinians buried in Israel to the PA for reburial there, and asked for a prisoner release.

While Israel did not agree to a prisoner release, it did agree to the transfer of 100 bodies of terrorists, some of whom were involved in suicide bombings. That transfer is expected to take place in a number of days. This is an issue that was discussed in the past, but put on hold while Gilad Schalit remained in Hamas captivity.

One official said that Israel would be watching how the PA handled the reinterment of the bodies, and did not want to see them granted hero status.

The official said Israel went “the extra mile” and showed flexibility on two of the three issues that the Palestinians raised, and hoped that they appreciated the steps and would show “reciprocity.”

One way of showing reciprocity, the official hinted, would be to ensure that the terrorists who will be re-buried in the PA are done so without the fanfare that accompanies the burial of heroes.

 

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By HERB KEINON

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