Israel reviews prisoner-release criteria


Israel will review its criteria for releasing Palestinian prisoners in order to retrieve captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

Jerusalem sources said Monday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has set up a committee to examine whether to lower a bar that currently excludes jailed Palestinians “with blood on their hands” from going free as part of a prisoner swap.

The committee, comprising Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann, Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter and Minister without portfolio Ami Ayalon, is expected to begin meetings this week and submit its recommendations next month.

Among proposals the committee will examine is keeping behind bars just those terrorists convicted of killing Israelis, while releasing those who caused only injuries or were jailed for killing fellow Palestinians.

Olmert is under pressure to recover Shalit, who was abducted to Gaza by Hamas-led gunmen in June 2006. Hamas wants hundreds of Palestinian prisoners released as ransom, but Israel has balked at many of the names on the list given the severity of their offenses. New criteria could free up Olmert to relax his opposition to the trade.



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