Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, lowered Wednesday expectations on the list of Palestinian prisoners, delivered by Egyptian mediators. The individuals named on thie list are part of a prisoner swap deal in exchange for Israeli corporal, Gila’ad Shalit, held by Palestinian resistance groups in Gaza.
Olmert’s statments came during a meeting of the Israeli Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee of the Israeli parliament (Knesset).
“The prisoners’ list bears expectations that we can not meet”, Olmert was quoted as saying. Palestinian officials expected last week that a prisoner swap deal would be concluded and that the ball now is in Israel’s court. In its initial response to the Palestinian offer, Israel announced the list of prisoners was disappointing and that ‘reservations were expressed over it’.
Israel claims the list includes what it calls ‘prisoners whose hands are stained with blood’. Palestinians insist that Palestinian prisoners who have been serving long terms, such as senior Fatah leader and MP Marwan Barghouti and PFLP secretary general, Ahmad Sa’adat, be released within the prisoner swap deal.
Sa’adat, whose detention was remanded by an Israeli military court on Wednesday, called upon the Palestinian resistance factions holding Shalit to keep to their swap conditions.
Approximately 1,400 Palestinian prisoners, including 120 women and 41 Palestinian ministers and MPs Israel abducted last summer, are believed to be the number of prisoners Palestinians want to see freed.
In a joint resistance attack on an Israeli military base south of Gaza on June 25th 2006, three Palestinian groups linked to Hamas took hostage corporal Shalit.
This unprecedented incident took place after Israel carried out a series of assassinations of Palestinian resistance leaders in the Gaza Strip, in addition to the killing of a 7-member family of Ghalia, while they were sitting on Beit Lahia beach in the northern Gaza Strip.
The capture of Shailt caused a deadly attack on the Gaza Strip, in which about 500 Palestinian men, women and children were killed and main infrastructure points and bridges were destroyed.