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The High Court of Justice examined on Wednesday a petition filed by the Legal Center for Research on Terrorism against the government's decision to release 500 Palestinian prisoners as goodwill gesture to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

The Israel Prison Service published Wednesday the names of the prisoners to be released in the next few days. The name were published in order to allow the filing of petitions against the release.

In an unusually political reply, the High Court of Justice Vice President, Justice Mishael Cheshin said: "The prime minister says that in his opinion the release of 500 Palestinian prisoners will prevent attacks - and I think there are indications that this is true."

"You are not claiming that the prime minister has joined the Hamas, are you?" Cheshin asked the petitioners' attorneys, Ya'akov Rubin and Ze'ev Desberg.

"After all you are not disputing the political wisdom of the government's decision. The release of prisoners certainly poses a risk, but the prime minister maintains that the alternative is more dangerous. In his opinion the release will prevent attacks, and he adds quietly 'I hope so' and even more quietly he says 'I pray so,' said Justice Cheshin.

"What can we do about the fact that it was the prime minister who has been elected and not you, and the government enjoys the Knesset's trust. This is what the prime minister thinks, who are we to tell him 'don't do that."

The petitioners claimed that the government's promise to the Palestinian Authority to release the prisoners impinges on the president's prerogative to grant pardon. The State's representative, Danny Horin, clarified, however, that apart from one female prisoner all Palestinians expecting their release are serving terms in military jailing installations, therefore presidential pardoning is not relevant in this case.

Another claim made by the petitioners, was that in previous instances where Palestinian prisoners were released it turned out that 14% of the prisoners returned to terrorist activity. The state attorney asked the High Court to give its early as possible, since the prisoner release is expected to take place in the next few days.