By Ghassan Khatib
".....Indeed, this "goodwill gesture" could backfire. Before the establishment of the Palestinian Authority, which is supposed to be the political representative of the Palestinian people, notables and Israeli-appointed Palestinian mayors of the various towns and villages under occupation used to plead for the release of prisoners on certain occasions, like the approaching month of Ramadan. Releases were then authorized in order to give them some credibility among their people. It is unfortunate that the Palestinian leadership has been co-opted, weakened and stripped of its political leverage to such an extent that it is in need of the support of such empty gestures."