Israel refusing to release Palestinian inmates: Prisoners Club
Mural in Gaza City in support of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails - REUTERS/File

CAIRO: Israel has said it will not release a fourth group of Palestinian prisoners who were expected to be released March 29, executive director of the Palestinian Prisoners Club Abdullah al-Zaghary told The Cairo Post on Tuesday.

“Some Israeli officials and politicians threatened to resign from their posts if the group was released,” Zaghary said during a phone call from Ramallah.

The 30 prisoners were the fourth group of a total of 104 inmates to be released from Israeli jails under an agreement between Israel and Palestine made during peace negotiations mediated by the U.S., he said.

On November 29, 2012, the United Nations General Assembly granted Palestine non-Member Observer State status so that it could appeal to be a member in international organizations. During U.S.-mediated talks, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas agreed to freeze requests for membership in international organizations in exchange for the release of the 104 prisoners and the freezing of Israeli settlements, Haaretz reported.

Israel has said it will not release the prisoners unless Palestine agrees to extend peace negotiations, Zaghary said. The deadline for peace talks is April 29.

The prisoners include 13 inmates from territories established in 1948, one from Jerusalem, one from the Gaza Strip, and the others are from the West Bank, Zaghary said. The Israeli government is trying to avoid releasing inmates from the territories established in 1948 because they have Israeli identifications cards, he added.

He said if the fourth group is not released, Palestine will appeal for membership in 64 organizations affiliated with the United Nations.

There are a total of 5,200 Palestinian inmates in Israeli jails, of which 220 are children, he said.

Five prisoners are currently on hunger strike to protest against administrative detention, he said.

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