PA Threatens Legal Action if Settlement Construction Follows Prisoner Release

Netanyahu is expected to announce plans for new housing tenders in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, following the release of the third group of Palestinian prisoners.

Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury
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Jack Khoury
Jack Khoury

The Palestinian Authority warned Israel Thursday against announcing new settlement construction in response to prisoner release, as the government did following the two previous releases.

Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said if Israel goes ahead with settlement approval, the Palestinians will seek membership in 63 international organizations, including the International Criminal Court in The Hague. Erekat said they would take Israel to the international court for war crimes and violations of international law.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce Israel's plans for new housing tenders in settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem next week, following the release of the third group of Palestinian prisoners, an official in Jerusalem said Wednesday.

The Palestinian Prisoners Club, an independent NGO, said that as in the first two rounds of the prisoner release, this time again there will be no Israeli Arabs among those freed, nor any from East Jerusalem.

With two more stages remaining of the prisoner release, mandated by the current peace talks initiated by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, 53 of the 104 prisoners to be freed remain in Israeli jails. All were put behind bars before the 1993 signing of the Oslo Accords. Those who are not released in the upcoming stage are due to be freed in the fourth and final one.

The 53 remaining there are considered the most serious criminals on the list, all having been convicted of murder or being accessories to murder, and all sentenced to life imprisonment.

Jomaa Ibrahim Adham of Ramallah and Mahmoud Abu Harbish of Jericho were jailed for the October 1988 firebomb attack that killed Weiss, three of her children and soldier David Delarossa while they were riding on a bus near Jericho. Mohammed Daoud of Qalqilya was imprisoned for throwing the Molotov cocktail that killed Moses and her son in the car they were riding in with other family members near Alfei Menashe.

Another prisoner remaining is Ahmed Kamil of Jenin, a former commander of a local Black Panther terror cell who was jailed in 1993 for the murders of five Israelis and 50 Palestinians, some of whom were suspected of being collaborators.

As with the two previous releases, the prisoners will be brought to the Beitunya checkpoint near Ramallah and the Erez checkpoint at the entrance to the Gaza Strip, and from there they will be transferred to the West Bank and Gaza. A festive reception is planned in the Muqata’a in Ramallah with the participation of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. From there the released prisoners will leave for their homes all over the West Bank in convoys. Those going home to Gaza are also expected to receive a celebratory welcome at the Bet Hanoun checkpoint in the northern Gaza Strip. Most of the prisoners are identified with Fatah.

The Palestinian Authority passed a law under Yasser Arafat that provides former prisoners with a one-time grant along with a monthly salary based on the length of their time in prison. Most of these prisoners are defined by PA as pensioners of the Palestinian security services.

The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a petition against next week’s scheduled release of a third batch of Palestinian prisoners.

Construction at the West Bank settlement Mitzpe Dani.Credit: Emil Salman
Palestinian relatives celebrate while waiting for the release of Palestinian prisoner at the checkpoint at the entrance of Beit Hanoun between north of Gaza Strip and Israel, Oct. 29, 2013. Credit: AP

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