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Shamir Vows Pardon for 25 Terrorists

May 24, 1985|United Press International

JERUSALEM — Israeli Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir today said Jewish settlers accused of attacking Arabs on the occupied West Bank are "basically good boys" and vowed to win a pardon for the 25 men.

His pledge followed a furor over Israel's swap of 1,150 Arab prisoners Monday for three Israeli soldiers captured during the 1982 invasion of Lebanon.

Shamir was prime minister when 25 Jewish settlers were arrested in April, 1984, for a reign of anti-Arab violence.

They were charged with maiming two West Bank mayors in 1980, killing three Islamic students in Hebron in 1983 and planting bombs on Arab civilian buses. So far, nine have either pleaded guilty or been convicted.

Shamir drew a distinction between the Jewish suspects and the 1,150 released Arabs, 76 of whom were convicted of murder by military courts.

"There's no connection, heaven forbid, between boys who erred but who are basically good boys who've done much for the nation, and on the other hand, terrorists, enemies, murderers," Shamir told Israel Radio.

"But there is some sort of link," Shamir said. "The trial is nearing its end. . . . The time has come to finish off this issue and bring greater unity and peace to the nation. We will do everything to get them a pardon."

Shamir said of the Israeli-Arab swap: "Why in fact should we release people accused of committing such grave criminal actions for ideological reasons, but not release others--ordinary criminals who've expressed remorse?"

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