World Bulletin/News Desk
Israel's parliament (the Knesset) on Tuesday passed a new law limiting the release of Palestinian prisoners within the context of future agreements with the Palestinians.
"People who commit exceptionally severe acts of murder will not be freed until they serve at least 40 years of their sentence," the Knesset said in a statement on its website.
The law, however, does not detract from the authority of the Israeli president to pardon prisoners.
Israeli forces routinely conduct arrest campaigns against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem on claims they are "wanted" by the authorities.
The frequency of such arrest campaigns has risen due to increasing unrest, which has mounted in recent weeks since Jewish settlers kidnapped and killed a Palestinian boy in Jerusalem in early July.
The new law makes it more difficult for the government to order the release of Palestinian prisoners convicted of murder within the context of future peace talks.
"For these prisoners, a special parole committee will not discuss the matter of their early release until at least 15 years have passed from the day of the sentencing, and they cannot commute the sentence to less than 40 years," the Knesset statement read.
Additionally, the law states that the government will not have the authority to free prisoners for reasons related to foreign relations or state security.
Some members of the Knesset (MKs) criticized the new law, saying it would tie the government's hands in any future negotiations with the Palestinians.
"We should tell the soldiers… if they are taken captive, it will now be much harder to free them," MK Nitzan Horowitz of the leftist Meretz party said.
Another leftist MK, Dov Khenin of the Hadash party, for his part, said the government was "supporting a process [approval of the legislation] which is tying its hands."
"Without the freeing of captives, it is impossible to end wars," Khenin asserted.
In a 2011 swap deal, Israel released 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured by Palestinian resistance faction Hamas in 2006.
However, at least 60 of the Palestinians released in that deal were rearrested this summer amid a wide-ranging crackdown in which hundreds of West Bank Palestinians were rounded up following the abduction and murder of three Jewish settlers.
Some 7,000 Palestinians continue to languish in prisons throughout Israel, according to the Palestinian Ministry for Prisoners' Affairs.
Last Mod: 04 Kasım 2014, 16:36