Palestinian prisoner release postponed


JERUSALEM (JTA) — A planned Israeli release of Palestinian prisoners has been postponed.

The release, which had been scheduled for Tuesday, has been postponed to Dec. 15 at the request of the Palestinian Authority, according to reports. The release was likely delayed so that P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas, currently on the Hajj pilgrimage, can greet the returnees personally, Israeli officials are speculating. 

The 230 Palestinian prisoners, whose release was approved by an Israeli government committee on Sunday, are identified as being "without blood on their hands." They are being released as a gesture to the Palestinian Authority in honor of a Muslim holiday, according to the Prime Minister’s Office.

All of the prisoners slated to be released are members of Abbas’ Fatah Party and are serving sentences in Israeli prisons. The Cabinet approved the releases at a meeting last week.

In addition to the prison releases, other goodwill gestures will be made in honor of the Eid-al-Adha holiday, an Israeli army spokesman announced Sunday.

Several crossings in Gaza and the West Bank will be open over time, and Israeli Arabs will be allowed to enter areas there under Israeli control to visit family members. Also, Palestinian families in Gaza and the West Bank will be permitted to enter Israel to visit immediate family, and the Allenby Bridge and Mussa Alami crossings to Jordan will be open 24 hours a day.

In addition, Palestinian men older than 45 will be allowed to enter the Temple Mount.


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