From AP: Israel announces mass prisoner release.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday he will release 250 Fatah members from Israeli prisons in a goodwill gesture aimed at strengthening Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas after Hamas' victory in Gaza.
Olmert announced the prisoner release at a summit with Abbas and the leaders of Egypt and Jordan that the Arabs and Palestinians are hoping can push forward the peace process and strengthen Abbas' hand.
"As a gesture of good will towards the Palestinians, I will bring before the Israeli Cabinet a proposal to free 250 Fatah prisoners who do not have blood on their hands, after they sign a commitment not to return to violence," Olmert told the gathering. ...
Olmert's Cabinet on Sunday approved the release of tax funds that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians but has withheld since Hamas swept Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006. Israel is holding $550 million in frozen funds, but the Cabinet decision did not say how much of the money would be released, or when.
The Israeli freeze on the money rendered past Palestinian governments unable to pay full salaries to government employees, causing hardship in the already impoverished territories.
By having the prisoners who supposedly "do not have blood on their hands" make a worthless, unenforceable oath not to return to violence, Olmert reveals two things: 1) that the prisoners were involved in violence, and 2) that there are Fatah members who do have blood on their hands. Try as he might, he can't hide the fact that he's dealing with a fundamentally violent organization. In the long run, it's Olmert who will have blood on his hands.
UPDATE -- July 2: From Reuters: Israel transfers $120 million to Abbas in first stage.
Posted by Forkum at June 25, 2007 02:12 PM