An activist for prisoners' issues, Fo'ad Al-Khofosh, has called on the Palestinian Authority to clarify the terms of the prisoner release deal agreed with Israel as part of the conditions for returning to the negotiation table. The ex-prisoner expressed his delight that Palestinians will be released from Israeli jails but insisted that the terms of the agreement should not be deceptive.
The terms are "disappointing" for the prisoners and their families, he said, since they were not based on the length of the original sentences and the length of time spent behind bars. The most worrying aspect, noted Al-Khofosh, is that the names of those to be released were not decided jointly between Israel and the PA. Most, he pointed out, are from Gaza and not the rest of occupied Palestine.
According to the names released through the Israeli media, the first batch of the prisoners to be freed includes of 15 prisoners from the Gaza Strip and 11 from the West Bank. However, there are 57 long-term prisoners being held by Israel from the West Bank and only 23 from the Gaza Strip. Of the 26 to be set free, 8 are within months of the normal end of their sentence in any case.
"In one case, that of Borhan Sobiah, he has been in prison since 2001," said Al-Khofosh, "whereas we were told by the PA and the Israelis that only those prisoners who have been incarcerated since before the Oslo Accords were being released."
The PA has made a serious error, he added, by agreeing not to be involved in deciding the names and criteria of those to be released.