Monday, February 14, 2011

Prisoner news you won't read anywhere

The number of Palestinian Arab prisoners in Israeli jails have gone down to 5,642 in January, according to B'Tselem.

This makes 25 consecutive months where the number of prisoners has been reduced.

AFP had a story this week that said that there are 7000 Arab prisoners in Israeli jails. There hasn't been that many since October of 2009.

Arab activists usually say "over 10,000." There were never that many prisoners. The high was a little less than 9500 in 2006.

Prisoners has been one of the major issues that the Palestinian Arabs bring up in negotiations, yet Israel is releasing them outside the context of peace talks.

If Israel would have held on to, say, 8000 prisoners between the beginning of 2009 and now, and then offered to release 2500 in exchange for Gilad Shalit, they might have gotten a deal. It is hard to imagine even Hamas telling Gazans that 2500 prisoners isn't enough.

But instead, Israel has released thousands of prisoners slowly, without fanfare - and without getting anything in return.