Cabinet okays list of prisoners to be freed; names posted online
The Israel Prisons Service yesterday posted on its Web site the names of 256 Palestinian prisoners slated to be released as part of a series of goodwill gestures to Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, shortly after the list was approved by the cabinet.
Ministers Shaul Mofaz (Kadima), Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu) and Eli Yishai (Shas) voted against the release.
The Prime Minister's Office said that six women were added to the original list of 250 as "an additional humanitarian gesture" to Abbas.
Among the prisoners appearing on the list is deputy head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Abed Elrahim Maluh, who was originally scheduled for release in two years.
Prison Services posted the names of the prisoners in order to give Israelis 48 hours to challenge the decision in court ahead of the anticipated Friday release.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said during the meeting that any prisoner slated for release that refuses to sign a letter undertaking a "form of commitment" to refrain from dealing in terror against Israel, will not be released.
The release will take place at several checkpoints in the West Bank, under the watch the Prison Services, and with the help of the IDF, the police and Shin Bet Security Service.
Mofaz said the release was a heavy price to pay for nothing in exchange. "It will raise the price that Hamas will demand for Gilad Shalit, and we need to hold onto prisoners for that goal," he said, referring to the Israel Defense Forces soldier abducted by militants on the Gaza Strip border in June of last year.
"I'm not sure how the ministers would have voted if their son had been abducted. I'm not opposed to supporting Abbas, but while Shalit is in their hands, it's not right to carry this thing out," he said.