Israel not to release Palestinian prisoners

Jerusalem, April 4: Israel’s chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni announced Thursday that Israel will not release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners due to Palestinians’ unilateral moves.

“New conditions were established and Israel cannot release the fourth batch of prisoners,” Xinhua quoted Livni as saying in a statement.

According to Livni, the Israeli government was making preparations to release the 26 Palestinian prisoners, set to be released last week, but the unilateral steps taken by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas made them change mind.

Earlier this week, Abbas signed letters to join 15 international conventions and treaties, which may pose a threat to Israel, as the Palestinian authority would be able to file official complaints of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and east Jerusalem.

Israel agreed to release 106 Palestinian prisoners amid the resumption of the peace talks in July last year. So far 78 prisoners have been released. The remaining prisoners were set to be released Saturday, but Israel delayed the action over the hawkish right wing’s objection to release 14 Israeli Arabs in the group.

US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived this week to try to mediate between the parties, which included an offer to set free American-Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard who has been incarcerated for the past three weeks.

Israel, however, issued tenders Tuesday for settlements’ construction of 700 housing units in Gilo of east Jerusalem. The move was followed by Abbas’ approaching the international bodies.