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25 Oct, 2007 01:22

Angry Palestinians take to streets

More than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners are being held in Israeli jails. Possible controversial trade-offs might be the new spur for Israeli-Palestinian reconciliation.

The issue is now back on the agenda after a prisoner was killed and dozens injured during a riot in an Israeli jail earlier this week. Hundreds of Palestinians took to the streets to protest against the incident.

The Palestinian Minister of Prison Affairs, Ashraf al-Ajrami, believes it was all planned by the Israeli authorities.

“They know that the Palestinian prisoner issue is very important for the Palestinian public  and leadership, so when they do anything wrong to Palestinian prisoners, they can negatively affect the mood in the Palestinian territories,” said Ashraf al-Ajrami.

To the Palestinians, all prisoners are political; to the Israelis, most of them are terrorists.

The issue of Palestinian prisoners remains high on the agenda in negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. In December this year both sides will meet to map out the details of a future Palestinian state, but without resolving this issue there can be no progress.

Meanwhile, the head of the Palestinian Prisoners' Association refuses to compromise.

“For there to be peace the prisoners must be  released, because if you want to make peace and your sons are still in prison, there will be no peace,” stressed Ahmed Abu Gaush, from the Prisoners' Association.