Olmert Backs Transfer of Four Prisoners to Jordanian Custody

PM pressured by Amman to release four Jordanians serving life sentences for killing IDF soldier.

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed his support Thursday for the idea of releasing Jordanian prisoners to Jordanian custody in order to serve out the remainder of their sentences.

Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Public Security Minister Avi Dichter also expressed support on the matter, although Defense Minister Amir Peretz has not yet determined his position.

Four Jordanians are serving life sentences for the murder of an IDF officer, Yehuda Lifshitz, on November 1990, four years after Israel and Jordan signed a peace treaty.

The issue has affected ties between the two nations, due to pressure from families of the prisoners, one of whom is the brother of a Jordanian member of parliament.

During a recent meeting between Olmert and King Abdullah, a Jordanian request was made for the release of the prisoners.

Former prime minister Ariel Sharon agreed to release the Jordanians imprisoned for lesser crimes, but was unwilling to free the four convicted of murder.

President Moshe Katsav also opposed their release, saying he would not sign a clemency order for prisoners "with blood on their hands."