Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has announced plans to build homes for prisoners released in the Gilad Schalit exchange, including those with blood on their hands. The move is seen as part of the competition between Fatah and their political rivals Hamas, who have both used the exchange to shore up lagging popularity.
The initiative would be funded by the Palestinian Investment Fund, Abbas said. That's an independent investment company "which aims to strengthen the local economy through key strategic investments, while maximizing long-run returns for its ultimate shareholder; the people of Palestine." The announcement followed separate monetary pledges by Fatah and Hamas to the former prisoners.
Hamas, which secured the release of more than 1,000 prisoners in exchange for one kidnapped Israeli soldier, has capitalized on the issue to strengthen its reputation among Palestinians and Arabs abroad. Hamas political chief Khaled Meshaal called the exchange a "national achievement for the Palestinian people" and thanked the "Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank for their steadfastness against the Israeli siege." He also promoted the event as proof that the path of violence secures Palestinian gains, as compared to his rivals' use of diplomatic manipulation alongside incitement against Israel.
Many of the released terrorists have pledged to return to violence, heightening concerns among Israelis and America that the exchange was ill-conceived.