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Tuesday, June 26, 2007


Israel's prisoners

First posted 6/25/07, 12:24 pm; updated [see below]

Headlines report "Israel freeing 250 Palestinians in peace gesture." Of course, if you read the fine print, the true story is "Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said Monday that he would seek cabinet approval for the release of 250 Fatah prisoners held in Israeli jails," so whether it will actually happen or not is still a matter of conjecture. But that's not why I'm writing. It's this:

"As a gesture of goodwill towards the Palestinians, I today announced my intention to release approximately 250 prisoners who are members of Fatah who do not have blood on their hands, with their commitment not to involve themselves again in terror," said Olmert.
So if they don't "have blood on their hands," and we can take it that means they weren't even accused, much less convicted, of participation in any attacks on Israelis (soldiers or civilians), then why exactly were these 250 Palestinians (and thousands more) in jail in the first place? Since they are identified as "members of Fatah," it's safe to assume Olmert's not talking about releasing 250 petty thieves, or 250 white-collar criminals. We're talking about 250 people whose "crime" was most likely publicly opposing the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Update: One of the rare mainstream reporters who I've praised on several occasions, McClatchy's Dion Nissenbaum, offers a viewpoint which few others in the corporate media will:

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a plan to release 250 Palestinian prisoners from Abbas' Fatah party, but hedged the offer with conditions that all but ruled out freedom for any politically prominent detainees. While it will grab many headlines, Olmert's offer fell well short of expectations for a package of goodwill gestures, including lifting roadblocks around the West Bank.
Also worth reading: an analysis of the situation by the PSL's Richard Becker, and Jonathan Cook writing on CounterPunch.

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