The Prime Minister's Office says that the release of the first 20 is not connected with the negotiations with Abu Mazen, but rather concerns prisoners whose sentences have ended or who are no longer dangerous.
"Professors for a Strong Israel" apparently does not accept the above explanation, and states today that Ariel Sharon "is not [only] compromising with terrorism - he has surrendered to it. Israel said it's not talking with terrorists, but here it is embracing Dahlan the murderer. Israel is obligated to the rule of law, but allows Barghouti the murderer to conduct negotiations from within prison."
Regarding the release of Abu Mutlak: An Israeli military court ordered his release this afternoon, with the judge saying that no evidence was found of his participation in terrorism. PA sources, however, say that they demanded his release, and that Dahlan needs him "in order to instill order in Gaza." The Yesha Council stated that his release represents a "new moral low" because of his involvement in the Kfar Darom bus bombing.
Finally, another 37 terrorist suspects who were arrested in a raid in Hevron will be freed by tomorrow. They were arrested, together with almost 100 others, about ten days ago by IDF forces, were taken for questioning - and are now being released in accordance with the PA demand for the release of prisoners. Hamas terrorist leader spokesman Abdel Aziz Rantisi says that the hudna (temporary cease-fire) will collapse if Israel does not release the thousands of Arab prisoners.
Health Minister Danny Naveh and Education Minister Limor Livnat have come out against the release of prisoners. Naveh said that the release of Abu Mutlak "gives off a bad message, similar to the expected release of other Palestinian terrorists in the near future. If terrorists are released without being punished, this will not calm down terror, but will rather encourage it in the future." Livnat said today that it is "not logical" that Israel releases terrorists while PA television broadcasts incitement.
Concerning this topic, despite the many Palestinian promises to stop or take action against anti-Israel incitement - including most recently at the Aqaba summit - the PA media continue to broadcast anti-Israel messages. Itamar Marcus of Palestinian Media Watch reports that video clips were screened on PA television yesterday portraying IDF soldiers as murderers and encouraging the burning of the Israeli flag and the shooting of Israeli soldiers. On the backdrop of a map of the Holy Land minus Israel, a narrator says that hearts are whole when Palestine is whole.
On the other hand:
Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, head of the Gal Einai Institute for Hassidut and Kabalah, and President of the Joseph's Tomb Yeshiva, was indicted today in a Jerusalem court for writing that Arabs have no right to live in the Land of Israel. He is charged with incitement and racism.
Rabbi Ginsburgh, who was born in St. Louis in 1944 and made aliyah to Israel in 1965, has written over 30 books in Hebrew and English; studied mathematics, science, philosophy, psychology and music, and has a Masters Degree in mathematics from YU's Belfer Graduate School of Science; and has hundreds of students in Kabbalah and Hassidut throughout the country, most notably including Yesha.