Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas embraced 26 convicts returning from Israeli jails as “heroes” on Monday night in Ramallah, WAFA News Agency reported.
“We promise that it will not be the last time, but there will be a batch of heroescoming to us all the time and in the near future, God willing,” Abbas said,according to an English translation by the Elder of Ziyon blog. “This is the day the joy of all of us the joy of our people for our prisoner heroes who came out today to the light of freedom to live free, we congratulate you and congratulate ourselves with these heroes who arrived here and who arrived in Jerusalem, Gaza, and the rest will come, God willing.”
In his speech, Abbas told the prisoners, their family members, and thousands of supporters who greeted them, that soon there will be a Palestinian state whose capital is Jerusalem and that the Palestinian flag will fly over the minarets and churches of Jerusalem.
The group of convicts had served on average around 20 years in jail and had been arrested for terror acts or the violent murders of Israelis.
The three tranches of prisoners, so far, have been Arabs who had been living in PA-controlled areas, but reports from diplomatic sources on the peace talks from Israel’s Channel 2 pointed to a dispute over the final tranche, which might see the release of Israeli Arab prisoners back into Israeli society, a move that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has refused after learning that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry had promised it to the PA. Kerry was reported to then tell Netanyahu that he would bring to Washington the Israeli request to free Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard from a U.S. prison before Israel would consider the final tranche. In total, 104 prisoners were agreed to be released in the four tranches.
Watch a video below of Abbas addressing thousands who came to greet the returning convicts as “heroes:”