PA urges ambassadors to refer to prisoners as ‘freedom fighters’

Letter issued by Palestinian foreign ministry calls construction of settlements in West Bank an act of ‘terrorism’

People in Jenin march in support of Palestinian prisoners, February 26, 2013 (photo credit: Mohammed Ballas/AP)
People in Jenin march in support of Palestinian prisoners, February 26, 2013 (photo credit: Mohammed Ballas/AP)

A letter issued by the Palestinian foreign ministry which was made public Sunday urges Palestinian ambassadors to stress among international diplomats that the 104 long-serving prisoners set to be released by the Israeli government are not terrorists, as Israeli authorities claim, but “freedom fighters.”

The letter, which was obtained by Haaretz, further claims that Israel itself is responsible for terrorist activities committed in its name and that the “political prisoners” had been forced to react to the Jewish state’s aggression.

“A terrorist is someone who forcefully occupies the other’s land, expels him and comes to live in his place,” read the letter, “not the Palestinian political prisoner, [who is] a freedom fighter.”

The letter went on to denounce the ongoing construction of settlements in the West Bank as well as the politicians who promote such construction, asserting that the act of building in the territories was both violent and criminal.

“The international definition of terrorism completely befits some Israeli politicians, who distort the image of the freedom-fighting Palestinian prisoner, especially of those sitting in Israeli prisoners from before the signing of the Oslo Accords,” it concluded.

Israel agreed to release 104 convicted terrorists serving time from before the 1993 Oslo Accords were signed, as a gesture during the ongoing negotiations between the sides.

On Sunday, a special ministerial panel will approve the release of 26 prisoners to be released in the first of a four-phase process.

Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office said that the prisoners expected to to be released in the first phase were classified by the Shin Bet as “low risk,” Haaretz reported.

Negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority were restarted two weeks ago in Washington, after over three years without direct talks, and will continue Wednesday in Jerusalem. Negotiators are set to meet again a week later in the West Bank town of Jericho. The sides have agreed to a nine-month timeline in an attempt to reach an agreement and end the conflict.

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