JERUSALEM — Israel’s prime minister faced a political uproar today over the planned release of 26 Palestinian prisoners, all according to authorities convicted on murder charges connected to deadly attacks on Israelis.
Tuesday’s release is part of a U.S.-brokered agreement that restarted peace talks with the Palestinians. It is the second of four planned releases of the longest-serving Palestinian prisoners held by Israel.
The announcement of prisoner names triggered a storm of criticism. Among those going free are people jailed for the killings of Israelis including a reservist and a Nazi death camp survivor, according to the list. Many of the killings occurred before the beginning of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks in 1993.
Israel has a long history of lopsided prisoner exchanges with its Arab adversaries. But this release appeared especially charged because Israel is receiving little in return except for the opportunity to conduct negotiations.
“The release of terrorists is immoral, weakens Israel, endangers Israeli citizens,” Naftali Bennett, leader of the hardline Jewish Home Party, wrote on his Facebook page. “Israel has humiliated itself for the last 20 years with terrorist release deals, and it is time to put an end to it.”
Pini Rosenberg, whose father, a survivor of the Sobibor Nazi death camp, was killed in a 1994 ax attack, said ministers did not consider the emotional toll on bereaved families. A man convicted in the killing was among those set to be released Tuesday.