The cabinet on Sunday approved proposals presented by Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann to impose sanctions on Hamas members imprisoned in Israel.
Gov't approves cutting 'special privileges' enjoyed by Hamas prisoners
During the final meeting of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government, Friedmann said, "Just because we're the only democracy in the Middle East, doesn't mean we have to be the only suckers."
"We must not radiate weakness," he added.
The plan, meant as a pressure tactic aimed at Hamas, which has not allowed captured IDF soldier Gilad Schalit to be visited by the Red Cross, includes the revoking of all prisoner benefits beyond the bare "legal requirements." Family visits will be cut to the legal minimum and radio and television rights, as well as the opportunity to study while imprisoned, will be revoked.
Before the meeting, Friedmann told Israel Radio that in taking such steps, Israel would "abide by both international and local law
"In this phase, we're presenting an intermediate report," he said, "and I hope it will be signed before the end of the government's term."
Friedmann noted that Israel would not prevent the Red Cross from visiting prisoners.
Before the meeting, Kadima MK Meir Sheetrit voiced support for Friedmann's plan, saying, "it's not reasonable that Schalit is living [in the Gaza Strip] without seeing his parents while Hamas prisoners live here as if they were at summer camp."
Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog echoed Sheetrit's words, saying, "There is an abundance of Hamas terrorists in Israeli jails who enjoy special conditions and special treatment while our soldier… hasn't even been visited once to see his well-being."
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