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Israel’s Prisoner Dilemma

Qadri Abu Wassel, a member of the Israeli Arab Monitoring Committee charged with overseeing Palestinian prisoners, expects the government to release Israeli Arab prisoners, whom he regards as political prisoners.
Israelis wearing keffiyehs hold up hands covered in fake blood protest outside the office of Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, against the release of Arab prisoners as a step to renew stalled peace talks with the Palestinians, July 28, 2013. Netanyahu on Sunday urged divided rightists in his cabinet to approve the release of 104 Arab prisoners in order to restart peace talk with the Palestinians. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun (JERUSALEM - Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST) - RTX122BK
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On Sunday, July 28, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed to get his cabinet to approve the release of 14 Israeli Arab prisoners held in Israeli jails. His proposal was attacked by ministers and senior security officials alike, including the head of the Shin Bet Yoram Cohen. They argued that Palestinian Chairman Abu Mazen must not be granted patronage over the Israeli Arab population.

As a result of this severe opposition and Netanyahu’s concern that any failure to approve his proposal to release those prisoners would jeopardize the launch of negotiations with the Palestinians in Washington, it was eventually decided to remove the Israeli Arab prisoners from the list submitted to the Palestinian leadership and to decide on their release at some later date, as yet undetermined.

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