Date: 25 / 08 / 2008 Time: 09:58

A freed Palestinian prisoner is greeted
by relatives in Bethlehem [Ma’anImages]

Bethlehem – Ma’an – Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed 198 newly liberated Palestinian prisoners at his headquarters in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

The scene at the Muqata’a was one of pronouncedly mixed emotions: jubilation at the release of the prisoners, and sadness for the 11,000 Palestinians still in Israeli jails. One Sunday night alone, Israel seized six more Palestinians during a raid in Ramallah.

“We’ll never feel comfortable unless all prisoners are freed and prisons are cleared. There will be no peace without releasing all the prisoners,” said Abbas, speaking to the assembled prisoners, families, and PA officials.

Addressing women prisoners who are still imprisoned, he said, “Your turn will come.”

Turning to the political issues at stake in his negotiations with Israel, he asserted that the status of “Jerusalem, settlements, refugees and borders either can be solved together, at once, or we will not accept other solutions. ”

Most prominent among the freed prisoners is Sa’id Al-Atabah, who spent 32 years in jail. Another senior prisoner released on Monday is Abu Ali Yatta, who spent 28 years in jail, as well as senior Fatah leader Husam Khadir who served six years.