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Palestians Reject Release List

October 6, 1999

JERUSALEM (AP) _ Israel announced it will release 151 Arab prisoners Friday, in accordance with the latest peace deal, but the chief Palestinian negotiator on prisoner releases rejected the list of names submitted by Israel.

The Palestinian official, Hisham Abdel Razek, said Wednesday the Israelis were offering to free prisoners who have almost finished their term, while the Palestinians were interested in those who still have many years to serve.

``The Israelis don’t want to implement the agreement and the criteria we agreed upon,″ he told The Associated Press.

Israeli Prisons Service spokeswoman Levana Levy-Shai said Wednesday that the prisoners would be released on Friday, but Abdel Razek said Israel cannot release them if the Palestinians do not agree.

He was speaking after a three hour meeting in Jerusalem with an Israeli official whose name was not announced. There was no immediate Israeli reaction to Abdel Razek’s statements.

Abdel Razek confirmed Israeli media reports that Israel is prepared to release militants whom it refused to free in previous prisoner releases. Levy-Shai, however, would not give details about those who are on the prisoner list.

Israel had refused to release prisoners from the Islamic Jihad and Hamas groups, and also militants who committed offenses after September 1993, when Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo accords with Israel, renouncing violence.

This time, however, Israeli agreed to free some Hamas and Jihad members and some militants whose offenses were committed after Oslo, Abdel Razek said. Israeli radio and television said that between 12 and 15 Jihad and Hamas members would be freed and that 42 of those whose offenses were after Oslo would be released.

The Islamic Jihad and Hamas are opposed to the Oslo agreement and the peace process, and have killed scores of Israelis in suicide bombing attacks.

Despite the actions of these groups, the prisoners to be freed have not killed or injured Israelis, the Israeli media said. Their actions presumably fall into the category of aiding and abetting violence. Abdel Razek dismissed them as ``small fry.″

Most of the 151 on the Israeli list are Palestinians, but 28 are militants from Arab countries who came to attack Israel, the Israeli media said.

Israel has already released 199 Palestinian security prisoners under the peace agreement signed at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh in early September.

Under the agreement, Israel is to release a third group of Palestinian security prisoners to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on December 9. The number has not yet been specified.

In addition, the accord establishes a permanent Israeli and Palestinian committee to discuss further releases of security prisoners.

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