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PLO: Israel 'no' on prisoners 'slap in face' to peace
Published Friday 28/03/2014 (updated) 18/04/2014 17:39
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Relatives of Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli prisons hold
portraits of their loved-ones in the West Bank city of Ramallah
on March 27, 2014.(AFP/File Abbas Momani)
RAMALLAH (AFP) -- Israel's refusal to free a final group of Palestinian prisoners Saturday is another obstacle to US efforts to broker peace, a senior official in President Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party said.

Under the deal which relaunched the talks in July, Israel said it would release 104 Palestinians held since before the 1993 Oslo peace accords in exchange for the Palestinians not pressing their statehood claims at the United Nations.

Israel has so far freed 78 prisoners in three batches but cabinet members had warned they would block the final release, anticipated for the end of March, if the Palestinians refused to extend the talks beyond their April 29 deadline.

"The Israeli government has informed us through the American mediator that it will not abide with its commitment to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday 29," Jibril Rajub told AFP.

"Israel has refused to commit to the names that were agreed upon of prisoners held by Israel since before the 1993 Oslo agreements," Rajub said.

Fatah official Hazem Abu Shanab said the release of the final group of Palestinian prisoners would be pivotal in determining the future of Israeli-Palestinian relations, noting that the international community will be inclined to hold Israel responsible for hindering the peace process.

"The release of prisoners is a legitimate, lawful, and human right. Their freedom should not be linked to concessions regarding extending or continuing the diplomatic process," he told Ma'an.

Israeli officials had no immediate comment.

But Israeli ministers have said previously that the prisoner releases were always conditional on progress in the talks, which had failed to materialize.

Many also baulked at the inclusion of Palestinian citizens of Israel among the prisoners slated for release.

Rajub called the Israeli move a "slap in the face of the US administration and its efforts," and said the Palestinians would resume their international diplomatic offensive.

"Not releasing the prisoners will mark the beginning of the efforts in the international community to challenge the legality of the occupation," he said.

The talks have been teetering on the brink of collapse, with Washington fighting an uphill battle to get the two sides to agree to a framework for continued negotiations until the end of the year.

US Secretary of State John Kerry met Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Amman on Wednesday in a bid to salvage the talks, with US special envoy Martin Indyk meeting the Palestinian leader in Ramallah on Thursday.

Meanwhile, EU diplomats are warning of a "significant risk" of regional upheaval and the "derailment of peace talks" due to increasing tension over the flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem, venerated by Jews and Muslims, AFP has learned.

"There remains a significant risk that incidents at this highly sensitive site, or perceived threats to the status quo, may spark extreme reactions locally as well as across the Arab and Muslim world, and have the potential to derail the peace negotiations," they quoted a joint report by heads of missions as saying.

Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the talks began.

The Israeli government has also insisted that it maintain a military and civilian presence in the occupied Jordan Valley, which forms around a third of the West Bank, and has insisted that the PLO recognize it as a "Jewish state," despite having already officially recognized Israel decades earlier.

Ma'an staff contributed to this report
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1 ) Julie / USA
28/03/2014 16:37
izrael has NEVER honored any agreement it has ever made anyway, so i'm not surprised it's reneging on this deal. the peace talks were a joke. now Palestinians can finally go to the ICC and get the justice they rightfully deserve. the murderous izraeli regime has done nothing but isolate and delegitimize itself. the international community is sickened with izrael's egregious violations of human rights and ongoing brutality.

2 ) Both Said No To / Peace & Statehood
28/03/2014 23:05
- The PLO's 'No' on holding serious talks leading to negotiations, or even just showing-up for talks leading nowhere, is more a 'slap in face' to Both Peace And Palestinian Statehood, and - Israel should, and hopefully will, be saying 'No' to everything the PLO expects to get for free, without giving value in return.

3 ) Mel / USA
28/03/2014 23:15
The non-release isn't the obstacle to "peace".Israel is! And Zionism isn't OFFERING "peace".It doesn't SEEK concessionary peace in a mutually respectful plan conducive to INTERNATIONAL LAWS,UNResols,Conventions,statutes etc. Where does anyone get the delusion that ZIONISM seeks MUTUAL peace?Its only goal is colonial Zionist CONTROL & growth of Judeo-fascism to STEAL the whole PIECE,of pluralistic Palestine,as an apartheid Ashkenazi-minority State! TAKE,TAKE! Never GIVE!

4 ) Jeremy Hughes / USA
28/03/2014 23:44
I'm not sure why the Palestinians don't insist that the USA guarantee Israel's commitments to the Palestinians. Israel never honored its commitments. The USA, funds, arms and covers up Israeli crimes against Palestinians. The USA is not an honest broker. Have'nt the Palestinians figured that out , yet.

5 ) Outlier / USA
29/03/2014 00:58
1. Julie, you are being ridiculous. Israel has honored plenty of agreements, which is why the Jordan and Egyptian peace accords have succeeded. But you should never let the facts get in the way of a biased comment.

6 ) d'Arc / USA
29/03/2014 01:33
Just a demonstration of what the word of the Israel government is worth. The Israelis claim to be negotiating with the US, not Palestinians. Time to join every UN agency possible and pursue statehood and recognition around the Israeli and US governments.

7 ) gabi / australia
29/03/2014 06:12
"Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the talks began." It's about time the US woke up to the fact that Israel is determined there will never be peace until they have taken all of the rest of Palestine. Then they will say "we'll give you peace, but on condition you do exactly as we say", which means absolute control of their lives. The US should cut off their funds . . .

8 ) for some reason- ARABS / rxpect ISRAEL to keep her part
29/03/2014 07:36
of any agreement while they do NOTHING/\. KIND OF ARROGANT.

9 ) Clear & Severe / Broken Promises
29/03/2014 16:06
I never understood why Israel continued honoring any part of the Agreements (Oslo's, or those that came later), after THE PLO'S 2012 STATEHOOD BID AT THE UNGA, which was as Clear & Severe a breach of the Accords as possible.

10 ) Mel / USA
29/03/2014 18:38
#4;Jeremy:Palestinians "figured that out" decades ago,even before Zionist persecution/ethnic cleansing of(pre)1947.They know exactly what Israel seeks(PAL genocide).The real cowardice,arrogance&lack of humane morality patroning the'success'of Zionism's power/expansion,is our USG,since Truman.A few POTUS's have come CLOSE to stopping ALL US tax-$ blood-money/loan guarantee's to Israels' dictatorship.But none ever had the moral courage,to follow thru.Just LUST for votes!Parasite-host symbiosis.

11 ) Colin Wright / USA
29/03/2014 20:44
Israel reneges on her word. Lucy, Charley Brown, and the football. Israel hasn't kept her word at any point in her existence. She seems to regard breaking it as a point of honor.

12 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
29/03/2014 22:20
Gabi and Julie and Mel are members of the vocal minority in their countries who continue to whine and lie about Israel, while at the same time forgetting that they themselves are imperialist colonial occupiers who refuse to divide USA or Aussie into two countries - one for the settlers (Gabi and Julie and Mel, yes you are settlers) and one for the natives they stole the land from. So do blow off more steam here on Maan, and show us how you still speak with forked-tongue.

13 ) There Are Only Two / Too Costly Options
29/03/2014 23:09
- Israel can ignore UN resolutions (for another 4 decades), just like Iran, Syria, & Russia, so the PLO's goal of more UN resolutions is certain to fail. - Israel economy ($200 Billion GDP) and military are strong, so the BDS and "Resistance" goals are equally certain to fail, which leaves * ONLY TWO "Too Costly" OPTIONS: -1- Stagnant talks with Israel, and thus NO STATE, OR -2- SURRENDER to Israel's terms* for peace/statehood. * No 1967 lines, No East Jerusalem, & No Refugee Return

14 ) Tom / USA
30/03/2014 00:07
Reneging on the prisoner release is the last great test of just how big an Uncle Tom Abbas is. It makes the whole "negotiations" into such a joke. If Israel won't honor this commitment then what in the world makes anyone think it will honor any other commitment. Time to walk away, dismantle the PA and demand the right to vote for the government that controls their lives.

15 ) Leonard / USA
30/03/2014 02:56
The words "never" and "always" are perfect examples of the irrationality that prevents the Palestinian's statehood. The PA can't make peace until the Iranian nuke issue is resolved with Iran having none. Not facing facts guaranties no peace treaty. Not recognizing Israel as the Jewish State is a total deal breaker. It is and will remain so. Face the facts.

16 ) Rami / Palestine
30/03/2014 08:58
Most of the prisoners whom had already been released during these faux talks as well as through the Shalit swap have already bee re-arrested on frivolous and bogus charges already. Of course that's done after the media stops talking about them. Israel has never abided by any agreement it has ever signed. Why expect it to this time?

17 ) JoeUSA / USA
30/03/2014 21:26
Ref@16 Rami , you are absolutely right. Furthermore , Israel had arrested over 700 Palestinians since the recent negotiations had started , not to mention , Israel had killed over sixty civilians not to mention injuring many others and increased its illegal settlement activities .

18 ) Arnold / Canada
31/03/2014 00:05
What did not make it into this reporters typing is that a Palestinian within the negotiating group just let it slip that as soon as the last prisoner group was released , the Palestinians were going to walk away from the table. That is probably why the Israelis asked for an extension of talks.

19 ) Endure Or Surrender / No Freedom & No State
31/03/2014 00:54
THE PA SHOULD discuss prisoner release and Palestine's creation, and -1- REALIZE THAT RECOGNITION OF A JEWISH STATE IS THE ONLY ROUTE TO THE PRISONER'S FREEDOM, just like -2- SURRENDER of other PLO demands (E. Jerusalem & 1967 lines) IS THE ONLY ROUTE TO PALESTINE'S CREATION.

20 ) @ the PLO / Israel PM Bennet
31/03/2014 02:29
If Israel's (prisoner release) refusal means Abbas will “go to the UN,” so be it. “Let him do it already. We will know how to deal with it. If he wants to establish the Palestinian state as a viable one he will have a lot of problems. He doesn't even have borders, let alone security, government, or independent rule. If it doesn't look like a state and doesn't sound like a state, it is NOT a state, regardless of what they will say in the UN."

21 ) Outlier / USA
31/03/2014 05:32
11., Colin, your statement is patently false, but you should never let the truth get in the way of a biased comment, lest you be considered relevant.

22 ) Rami / Palestine
01/04/2014 11:33
#18, and you obviously know this information because you, Arnold from Canada, are a member of the PLO delegation, right?
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