Despite the Israeli Cabinet decision yesterday to release 355 PA prisoners in the near future, sources in Hamas, Islamic Jihad and even the PA itself threaten that if Israel does not release all of 6,000 Palestinian prisoners - including murderers - the Road Map negotiations, and the hudna, will end.
Welfare Minister Zevulun Orlev (National Religious Party), who voted against the release yesterday, explained to Arutz-7 this morning that the close vote in the Cabinet was not surprising: "On the original Road Map vote, only 12 ministers were in favor, while 11 were not - seven voting against and four abstaining. The ministers are pretty equally divided regarding the Road Map and related issues - and particularly on the issue of prisoner releases, which are not even mentioned in the Road Map."
Arutz-7's Emanuel Shilo asked, "If it's not mentioned, then where did it come from?" Orlev's response:
"The Prime Minister told us that in order to assure the implementation of the Road Map, we must strengthen Abu Mazen and his government, and that this issue of releasing the prisoners will greatly strengthen them. But we said the opposite: The issue is not part of the Road Map, and Abu Mazen and Dahlan must first prove that they're taking action against the terrorists [in order to ensure that those whom we release will not be likely to return to terrorism]. Defense Minister Mofaz told us last week that terrorists involved in firing mortar shells were arrested by the PA - and then quickly released, in the old revolving door policy."
Orlev said that yesterday's decision paves the way for the release of many more prisoners:
"The PA always plays the role of the victim, the one who is always supposed to get more and never gets enough. It is clear that yesterday's decision is just an opening for them to demand more; only 5% of the terrorists will be released, according to yesterday's decision, and it's clear that it won't end there."
Among the 355 who are to be released are 215 administrative detainees, many of whom were to be released in any event within two months or less. Another 140 are women, or males under 18 or over 60, all of whom were arrested before the outbreak of the Oslo War and who do not belong to Hamas or Islamic Jihad.