Jail time cut for Arabs' killers

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IN A MOVE that is likely to anger Palestinians, Israel has commuted the sentences of several Jews who killed Arabs.

The decision is particularly provocative after Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli Prime Minister, last year refused to release Palestinian prisoners who, he said, "had blood on their hands".

Among those benefiting from the decision are Ami Popper, who killed seven Palestinian labourers in 1990 and will see his sentence reduced from 17 life terms to 40 years. Nehemia Mishbaum, who was given a 17- year term for throwing a grenade into a market in 1992, killing a Palestinian, will now serve five-and-a-half years.

Tsahi Hanegbi, the Justice Minister, said Israel had released many Palestinian prisoners under the Oslo accords. He said: "I felt we must make a similar gesture with regard to Jewish prisoners."

"It is a provocative move," said Ahmed Abdel-Rahman, the secretary- general of the Palestinian cabinet. "Israel should have released those who were mentioned in the peace accords instead of freeing Jews who killed Palestinians in cold blood."