Greeted by crowds of cheering Arabs waving PLO flags, the first busloads of newly-freed convicted PA terrorists arrived near Ramallah shortly after 11:00 AM on Monday.

The terrorists were released by the Sharon government as part of a confidence- building gesture to PA leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen). Abbas has pledged to work for the release of all convicted PA terrorists serving time in Israeli jails.

Although 180 of the 500 terrorists freed today did not complete two-thirds of their sentence, the High Court of Justice yesterday rejected a petition challenging the release. The court ruled unanimously that the criteria for determining which prisoners to set free were within the government’s legal authority.

The Almagor Terror Victims Association had claimed that the release did not fulfill the terms set by the ministerial committee, namely, that the prisoners be freed only after having served two-thirds of their jail terms.

The court decision cited the government's pre-condition that the prisoners must sign affidavits stating they will not return to terror. Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, in a minority opinion, rejected the government's argument that the release will reduce terror. He said that freeing prisoners only gives the Palestinian Authority evidence that they have gained something from Israel.

Another 400 convicted terrorists are scheduled to be released within the next three months, part of the same goodwill gesture Sharon offered Abbas at the recent Sharm a-Sheikh summit. Israeli and PA representatives will jointly determine which convicted terrorists will be the next ones to have their sentences commuted and their freedom restored.

Among those greeting the terrorists in Ramallah today was Abu Sucar, himself released in a previous "gesture" to the PLO. Abu Sucar detonated a refrigerator bomb in Jerusalem's Zion Square on July 4, 1975, killing 14 civilians and wounding 70. He was sentenced to life in jail, was later freed by Israel and now serves as the PA’s advisor for prisoner affairs.

In addition to releasing jailed terrorists, Israel has agreed to allow deported terrorists to return to their homes in the PA. Thirty-nine such deportees who seized and threatened to blow up the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem after averting capture by the IDF in 2002 will be returning shortly to Arab-held territories in Judea and Samaria.

Sixteen other PA terrorists from Judea and Samaria who were expelled to Gaza during the Oslo War along with their families returned to their homes on Sunday.

One of the terrorists released today told an Arutz-7 TV reporter in Ramallah that Israel will have no “peace or security until all the [PA] prisoners are released.”

Almagor member Dr. Aryeh Bachrach, whose 18-year-old son Ohad was murdered by terrorists, said he was disappointed by the Supreme Court's decision allowing the release. "The criteria that the government determined do not measure up, in terms of neither ethics nor security. It is a shame the court did not have the courage to stand in the breach and prevent the deterioration to which the government is leading. It is too bad that others also will have to pay the price of this move." Almagor has presented much evidence that many released terrorists have gone on to commit more murderous attacks.