Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, said during a welcome ceremony to 199 Palestinians who were freed by Israel on Monday, that there will be no peace deal with Israel until all Palestinian detainees are freed from Israeli prisons and detention centers, Israeli online daily, Haaretz, reported. Abbas added that the Palestinians seek peace, want to achieve a lasting peace deal and added that peace cannot be achieved while the detainees are still imprisoned by Israel.
The welcome ceremony was held at the Palestinian Presidential headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
The detainees were freed under what Israel described as a good-will gesture towards president Abbas.
Abbas said that Israel should release Marwan Barghouthi, a Fateh leader and a former legislator who is serving several consecutive life terms.
Abbas also called for the release of Ahmad Saadat, secretary-general of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and Dr. Aziz Dweik, the Hamas official and the head of the Palestinian Legislative Council.
Haaretz stated that the Israeli government said that freeing the 199 detainees is the latest step of confidence-building with the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas. Mark Regev, one of the spokespersons of Israel’s Prime Minister, Ehud Olmert, said that “it is not easy to release detainees, especially those who killed civilians”, according to Regev.
The release of the detainees was approved by the Israeli government last week.
Meanwhile, Likud member of Knesset, Gilad Erdan, slammed the government for its decision and said that those detainees “are killers who were set free by a failed government”.
Israel is still holding captive approximately 10.000 Palestinian political prisoners in several prisons and detention centers. Several hundreds of women and children are imprisoned by Israel.
Former Palestinian Security advisor, Jibreel Rajoub, said that the Israeli distinction and attempts to label some detainees as detainees with blood on their hands is meaningless, adding that there are several Israelis who killed Palestinians and were never imprisoned by anyone.
Sa’id Al Ataba, 57, and Mahmoud Abu Ali are among the freed detainees.
Al Ataba was arrested by Israel in the 1970’s; Israel claimed he is responsible for a market bombing in which several Israelis were killed.
Abu Ali was imprisoned by Israel in 1980 for killing an Israeli settler in the West Bank; he is also believed to be responsible for the killing of a Palestinian prisoner who was collaborating with Israel.