Israeli authorities Thursday released the longest-serving Palestinian freedom fighter Karim Younis after spending 40 years behind Israeli bars.
Younis, 66, from Arab-Israeli town of Ara in northern Israel, was detained on January 6, 1983, for his resistance of the Israeli occupation and sentenced to life in prison, which was later commuted to 40 years.
The Fatah official, and his cousin, Maher Younis, who has also been in Israeli prisons since 1983, were supposed to have been freed in 2014 in a deal brokered by then-US Secretary of State John Kerry in which Israel was supposed to free in four different batches all Palestinian prisoners held since before the signing of the 1993 Oslo Accords that launched the peace process between the Palestinians and Israel.
Israel implemented the release of the first three batches, mainly freedom fighters from the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, but when it came to the fourth batch, which included mainly Palestinians from Israel and occupied East Jerusalem, Israel reneged on its promise and refused to free them and as a result derailing and sabotaging years of intense peace process.
The Younis cousins and several other Palestinians from Israel were in the fourth batch and were among 25 Palestinians still incarcerated since before the signing of the Oslo Accords that included 11 from inside Israel.
President Mahmoud Abbas congratulated Karim Younis on finally getting released after spending 40 years in Israeli prisons.
Abbas said that Younis represents a symbol of the Palestinian people and the free people of the world in steadfastness.
He stressed that prisoners are the cause of the entire Palestinian people, adding prisoners is the top priority, and the Palestinian leadership will make every effort to release them from the Israeli occupation detention centers.
Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh also congratulated Karim Younis and stressed that all Palestinian prisoners in the occupation detention centers will obtain eventually their freedom.
He called on international human rights organizations to intervene to release them all, especially female prisoners, children and the sick among them.