The renewal of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians may help improve the security situation in the West Bank, said Shin Bet security service chief Yoram Cohen on Sunday.
According to two ministers present at the government meeting Sunday where the cabinet discussed the possibility of releasing 104 Palestinian prisoners ahead of negotiations, Cohen said, “Entering negotiations with the Palestinians has a certain calming effect on the ground in Judea and Samaria, especially among operatives associated with the Palestinian Authority like the Fatah’s Tanzim members.”
On the other hand, Cohen warned, releasing prisoners could diminish Israel’s state security, as those who are released might return to violence, and the country’s deterrence may be impaired.
The Shin Bet chief was not asked by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or any one of the ministers to express his views for or against the cabinet’s decision to release security prisoners who had murdered Israelis.
Cohen told ministers that Netanyahu had notified him last week of his decision to release 104 prisoners who were incarcerated before the Oslo Accords, as part of an understanding with the United States ahead of renewed talks with the Palestinians. He added that Netanyahu had asked the Shin Bet to rank the prisoners and to recommend to government who should be released in each of the four phases (which had been decided on in advance).
Read more at Haaretz.com.