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MK Kara: Include Ouda Tarabin in Grapel Deal

MK Ayoob Kara: Ouda Tarabin should receive the same treatment as Ilan Grapel. Include him in the deal for Grapel's release!
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 10/11/2011, 7:27 AM

MK Ayoob Kara
MK Ayoob Kara
Yoni Kempinski

The Deputy Minister for Development of the Negev and Galilee, MK Ayoob Kara (Likud), called on Monday to include Ouda Tarabin in a deal to secure the release of Ilan Grapel.

Ouda Tarabin is an Israeli Bedouin man who has spent the past 11 years in prison in Egypt for allegedly spying for Israel. Grapel is an American-Israeli student who was also recently arrested and is being held in Egypt on spying charges.

Speaking at a special press conference with the Tarabin family, Kara said: “I am ashamed that an Israeli Bedouin citizen does not get the same treatment as the one received by Ilan Grapel.”

He added, “I’ve approached the U.S. Ambassador in Israel as well as the Prime Minister and demanded that any deal to free Grapel also include Inside Ouda Tarabin. I do not accept any excuse on this matter because once we release security prisoners held in Israel for Grapel,  there will be no chance to release Ouda, because no one knows who will assume power in Egypt and there’s no guarantee he’ll released in December 2015 when he finishes serving his prison sentence.”

On Sunday, it was reported that Cairo is demanding that Israel free 81 Egyptian prisoners in exchange for Grapel’s freedom.

The demand was presented during the visit of U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who traveled to Cairo partly with the intention of bringing Ilan Grapel back with him to the U.S. following talks. Instead, Panetta was forced to leave Egypt empty-handed.

Earlier reports had said that the Obama administration agreed to increase its political and financial support to Egypt, a fact which caused Egypt to agree to release Grapel. It was not clear what prompted Egyptian officials to refuse at the last moment to refuse to release the American-Israeli student and increase their prisoner exchange demands.

Suleiman Tarabin, Ouda’s father, also spoke at Monday’s press conference with Kara and said: “I call on the Prime Minister, Minister of Defense and the American government to act to release my son from the Egyptian prison.”

“I do not understand why when we go to the doctor we are treated as any Jew is treated, but when it comes to detainees in Egypt, the Bedouin do not get the same treatment received by a Jew,” added Tarabin. “The Shalit family has not slept more for more than 2,000 days, and my family and I have not slept for more than a decade. For more than ten years we have not celebrated any holidays. My son refuses to get married before his brother is released. I am pleading with anyone who has influence to do anything possible to have my son see the light of day.”