Veteran prisoners voice support for Abbas' UN move
Published Wednesday 02/04/2014 (updated) 02/04/2014 18:26
RAMALLAH (Ma'an) -- Thirty veteran Palestinian prisoners who were eligible to be freed on March 29 applauded President Mahmoud Abbas' decision to apply for membership in international agencies, a statement said Wednesday.
"President Abu Mazen (Abbas) stood up for our dignity and our freedom," the statement said. "We support his efforts and his decision -- we refuse to be used as a bargaining chip."
"Our fate and destiny are not separate from that of our people. Israel must pay a toll for the crimes committed against Palestinian prisoners and the Palestinian people."
As a stipulation for relaunching peace negotiations in July, Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian veteran prisoners -- jailed before the 1993 Oslo accords -- in exchange for the PLO's pledge not to apply to international bodies.
Seventy-eight prisoners have been freed so far in three separate tranches.
Israel was scheduled to release the final group of prisoners on Saturday, but did not.
In response, Abbas said on Tuesday that he had begun steps to join several UN agencies.
Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.
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 negotiations began.