Netanyahu slams Abbas for meeting freed Palestinian prisoner
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu criticized Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday for meeting a Palestinian female who was imprisoned for murdering an Israeli teen but has been freed in the Shalit prisoner swap deal, Xinhua reported.
Israel Radio reported that Abbas met Amna Muna in private on Wednesday during his visit to Turkey, after holding a meeting with a group of Palestinian prisoners who were deported to Turkey after their release.
Muna was serving a life sentence for participating in the murder of Ofir Rahum, an Israeli teen from Ashkelon, before she was released in the first stage of the prison swap deal and deported to Turkey.
In response to Abbas' meeting, the Israeli prime minister's office issued a statement later Wednesday, saying that it was " shocking to see the man who claims to the whole world that he aims for peace with Israel going as far as Turkey to meet a despicable murderer."
Abbas told the prisoners that the issue of prisoners was one of the top priorities of the Palestinian National Authority (PNA), saying that the issue was being raised in all meetings between the PNA officials and the world leaders, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Abbas, according to a statement released by his office, " praised the prisoners for remaining steadfast in the face of Israeli wardens' mastery." He also briefed the released prisoners on the latest developments in the region.
The Israeli prime minister's office spokesman, Mark Regev, said that "instead of promoting peace and reconciliation, the Palestinian leadership seems to be putting extremist murderers up on a pedestal ... This raises serious questions as to their commitment and as to their desire to end the conflict."
Israel reached the prisoner swap deal with Hamas in October for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped in 2006.
In return for the release of Shalit, Israel agreed to release 1, 027 Palestinian prisoners, about 400 of them serving long sentences.
In the first stage of the deal in October, Hamas released Shalit, and Israel released 477 Palestinians, including Muna, who was originally slated to be exiled to Gaza but was later deported to Turkey for her refusal to enter the coastal strip, according to the Jerusalem Post.
In the second and final phase of the deal, which took place last week, Israel released 550 Palestinian prisoners.