Israel is weighing criteria to govern the release of a number of Palestinian prisoners from Israeli jails, Israeli vice Premier Shimon Peres said on Tuesday, at the same day, Israeli troops arrested some 117 Palestinians claimed to be Hamas operatives in various areas in the West Bank.
Peres said, Israel is considering a number of requests by the Palestinian Authority as gestures before the expected summit meeting between the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon in November.
The summit was scheduled for Tuesday however; Palestinians and Israelis announced on Monday that it will be delayed, probably until November.
A number of Israeli officials have vocally rejected the release of prisoners ‘with blood on their hands,’ Israeli political code for jailed Palestinians suspected of involvement in killing Israelis.
This issue is one of primary importance to the Palestinian public and it influences the talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
On the other hand, Sharon is to meet U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Welch on Tuesday, after the latter met with Abbas in Ramallah on Monday.
Welch reiterated the U.S. stand regarding the importance of taking steps to strengthen Abbas’ government.
Local observers believe that arresting 117 Palestinians in one day and hundreds more during the past week, does not strengthen Abbas’ stand, but weakens it.