(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

The Ministerial Committee on the Release of Palestinian Prisoners today (Sunday), 13 February 2005, decided as follows:

1. To recommend to President Moshe Katsav and the authorized bodies that 500 Palestinian prisoners and detainees be released, in accordance with the list that was submitted to the Committee today. This recommendation will be submitted for Cabinet approval regarding prisoners who do not meet the criterion set forth in the by the Cabinet at its 27 July 2003 meeting, according to which no prisoner will be released who has not served at least two-thirds of his sentence.

2. Coordination for implementing the release will be carried out by a committee chaired by Justice Ministry Director-General Aharon Abramovitz and with the participation of representatives from all relevant bodies.

3. The criterion, according to which no prisoner will be released who has not served at least two-thirds of his sentence, will not be changed.

Prime Minister Aril Sharon said that the release of Palestinian security prisoners is a step to which we have committed ourselves in the framework of the negotiations being conducted with the Palestinians. This is neither an easy nor a simple step but it is possible that this gesture will both assist the Palestinian Authority (PA) in establishing its control and increase mutual confidence between the sides.

500 prisoners will be released, in accordance with the Committee’s recommendations.

Administrative detainees whose release date is before 28.2.05 will not be included in the list of 500 and other prisoners – judicial or administrative – will be inserted in their place, in accordance with ISA recommendations and with the approval of Justice Ministry Director-General Abramovitz.

The exact release date will be determined by of Justice Ministry Director-General Abramovitz in coordination with Prime Minister Sharon’s Military Secretary, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Gallant.

Following are the guidelines for the continuation of the process:

1. The professional committee will begin formulating a list of 400 additional names.

2. The “joint committee” with the Palestinians will convene according to a timetable that will be determined by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and the relevant PA bodies.

3. In accordance with Justice Minister Livni’s proposal, Justice Ministry Director-General Abramovitz will prepare a full and complete database regarding all security prisoners held in Israel for use during the continuation of the process.