JERUSALEM, Israel - Despite protests by several Cabinet ministers, the government voted in favor of releasing 250 Arab prisoners on December 8 to coincide with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
"[Israel] has made enough gestures to the Palestinians without having received anything in return," said Jacob Edery (Kadima), minister without portfolio. "You don't have to free terrorists so long as there is no progress in the effort to free [Israel Defense Forces Corporal] Gilad Shalit or the peace talks," he said.
Transportation Minister Sha'ul Mofaz (Kadima) and Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Eli Yishai (Shas) also voted against the release.
Two weeks ago, outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would release another 250 prisoners as a goodwill gesture for the holiday.
Eid al-Adha celebrates the Islamic version of the biblical recording of the sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22:1-19), replacing Isaac with Ishmael, Abraham's son by Hagar, the Egyptian handmaid of his wife, Sarah (see Genesis 16).
Less than three months ago, Israel released 198 Arab prisoners to mark the Islamic month of Ramadan, two of whom have been re-arrested for murder.
Source: YNet news