U.S. Lawmakers Ask That Palestinians Released in Shalit Deal Be Put on Terrorist Watch List

Lawmakers send letter to FBI Director Robert Mueller, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, saying Palestinians convicted for terrorism should be denied entry to U.S.

A bipartisan group of U.S. lawmakers is asking FBI Director Robert Mueller and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to put Palestinians released from prison in a swap for an Israeli soldier on the terrorist watch list.

In a letter this week to Mueller and Clinton, the lawmakers said the Palestinians who were convicted on various terrorism charges should not be allowed to enter the United States.

In the swap earlier this month, Israel released over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for tank crewman Sgt. Gilad Shalit, who had been held by Hamas militants in Gaza for more than five years.

The deal was extremely controversial and involved the release of multiple prisoners responsible for perpetrating terror attacks against Israel and serving life sentences.
On Sunday, opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) broke her silence over the prisoner exchange, stating that the deal “legitimizes and strengthens” Hamas.

In an interview with Israel Radio, Livni said that “Israel is losing its military deterrence,” and that the next phase of the prisoner exchange, in which another 550 Palestinian prisoners are to be released, must be “coordinated with Abbas, rather than with Hamas.”

Livni further stated that the peace process must be restarted as a “matter of national interest” which will show the world that it does not act solely after soldiers are kidnapped.

Signing the letter on Friday were 36 House Republicans and Democrats led by Rep. Howard Berman, the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee.

Top Hamas official Yehya Al-Sinwar is greeted by a member of the Hamas Military wing upon his arrival at the Rafah crossing with Egypt in southern Gaza, October 18, 2011. Reuters