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Israel to toughen prisoners conditions

10 May 2010 6:30

Israeli Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is determined to advance a new bill aimed at toughening the condition of Palestinian detainees jailed in the Israeli jails, despite the Israel Prison Service’s objection.

The new limitations are meant to pressure Hamas to advance the talks on a prisoner exchange deal with Israel, which will lead to the release of captured Israeli occupation soldier Gilad Shalit.

Meanwhile, a ministerial committee discussion of the bill, which was scheduled for Sunday, has been postponed by two weeks.

Israeli Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser and Justice Minister Yaakov Ne’eman asked Knesset Members Danny Danon and Yariv Levin (Likud) – who submitted the new bill after the original motion sparked a row about a year ago – to postpone the discussion. They explained that the Israeli prime minister, Justice Ministry and Public Security Ministry must be allowed to form a clear stance on the matter.

Ynet first reported last week that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu removed his objection to the bill. The proposal includes canceling the detainees’ academic studies, forcing them to wear a uniform, removing cable TV stations and denying visits from their relatives and lawyers.

The Israeli Justice and Public Security ministries have begun forming their stand on the matter and discussing the bill with the relevant elements, including the defense establishment, the IPS and the prime minister’s special representative on the Shalit issue, Hagai Hadas. Hadas submitted a recommendation to the Israeli Public Security Ministry, stating that aggravating the conditions would put Hamas under pressure.

The proposal was opposed by elements in the IPS, who said the expected limitations may lead to a revolt within the detainees. Sources close to Aharonovitch, however, told Ynet that the decision would not be based on the recommendations of the professional ranks and would not be influenced by possible riots, and that the minister was prepared to deal with any escalation.

The two Israeli ministries are expected to form a final and uniform stand on the matter within the next two weeks, and decide whether to advance the private bill and revise it during its enactment procedure, or submit an alternative governmental bill.

In the meantime, it appears that most elements have removed their objections, although a source in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office has noted that “the Israel Prison Service still has its reservations. It fears that such a law would affect the atmosphere in the prisoners, and therefore the matter must be examined thoroughly.”

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