Skip to comments.Abbas to free 'all' Hamas prisoners in West Bank
Posted on 06/22/2009 3:12:28 AM PDT by Son House
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered the release of 'all' Hamas prisoners, including those held on security charges, a senior aide told al-Jazeera from Ramallah on Monday. Azzam Ahmed, the head of the parliamentary bloc of Abbas Fatah party charged with holding reconciliation talks with the rival Hamas movement ruling Gaza, told the Doha-based channel the release would get underway in the coming days.
The Palestinian Maan news agency, however, quoted sources close to Abbas as saying Hamas prisoners would only be released on condition they do not pose a threat to general security and law and order.
Abbas had issued orders to re-evaluate the files of all Hamas prisoners in the West Bank and to release those who met this condition, they said.
The presidents office in Ramallah was not immediately available for comment on the reports, as Abbas was away touring Middle Eastern capitals.
Hamas and Fatah representatives met in Ramallah last week as part of the ongoing attempts to reconcile between the two rival Palestinian movements, and agreed to freeing prisoners from both sides.
Abbas Fatah-dominated security forces in the West Bank then freed some 20 Hamas members from their detention centres, but Hamas reacted angrily, calling that number not serious. Abbas forces also arrested some 40 more over the last few days, further angering Hamas, which threatened to stop the talks and spoke of a revolving door policy.
It says that about 760 of its members are held in Palestinian Authority prisons in the West Bank.
Fatah, for its part says Hamas is holding some 1,000 of its members and supporters in prisons in Gaza.
Both sides have also accused each other of brutal treatment and torture against the prisoners.
Observers said Abbas own security forces vehemently oppose a general release of Hamas prisoners. They have cracked down against Hamas in the West Bank, fearing it could launch a similar putsch against Abbas and his Fatah-dominated security forces as happened in Gaza two years ago.
That June 2007 Gaza take-over was the culmination of a fierce and periodically bloody power struggle, which first erupted after Hamas unexpectedly won Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006, ending the long-time Fatah-domination over Palestinian politics.
The failure thus far to end the Gaza-West Bank, Hamas-Fatah split in the Palestinian areas has also contributed to the stalemate in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Hamas and Fatah are scheduled to begin another round of Egyptian-mediated reconciliation talks in Cairo on Friday.
The sides failed to reach a breakthrough in a series of previous rounds.
Th Palis are getting worried Iran activities have stolen the news and they want the attention (and money flow) back.
Just make sure they are all dead before you release them.