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Nobel winner says Israel should free Palestinians

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel should release all Palestinian prisoners, Israel’s new Nobel laureate said.

Professor Ada Yonath, who was notified last week that she had won the Nobel Prize for chemistry, discussed her political views during an interview Saturday on Army Radio.

"It’s not clear to me why we’re holding these Palestinian terrorists, or what we call ‘terrorists,’ " she said. "We need to think about ways to reduce their motivation to kill and be killed. We have it in our power to change the current situation, when a man sits in our jails for a number of years, and around him friends and family become angry. That is how we create terrorists."

Yonath said she believed that if Israel released its Palestinian prisoners, they would have less motivation to try to kidnap Israelis. She said the releases should not be contingent on the release of captive Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

"I am very sorry she [Yonath] got carried away into an argument in which she is not proficient," Elisha Haas, formerly a chemist at the Weizmann Institute who says he knows Yonath well, told Ynet. "It’s too bad she commented without thinking."

Dr. Neve Gordon of Ben Gurion University, who recently called for a boycott of Israel, told Ynet that "It’s important for everyone to express themselves on these issues, not just members of the academia. I think it is our duty as educators to stress that the essence of democracy is that the citizen is not just a bystander, but also has the ability and the right to affect political processes."
 

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