JERUSALEM, April 3 (Xinhua) -- Israel's chief peace negotiator Tzipi Livni announced on Thursday that Israel will not at present time release the fourth group of Palestinian prisoners as a result of the Palestinians' unilateral moves.
"New conditions were established and Israel cannot release the fourth batch of prisoners," Livni said in a statement.
According to the statement, 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 on Saturday, but Israel delayed the action over the hawkish right wing's objection to release 14 Israeli Arabs in the group.
U.S. 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 on Tuesday for settlements' construction of 700 housing units in Gilo of east Jerusalem. The move was followed by Abbas' approaching the international bodies.
On Wednesday evening Livni met with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat in an attempt to salvage the deteriorating peace talks, in a meeting defined by sources as "harsh" and " battle field-like."
Earlier on Wednesday Livni said the Palestinian authority broke their commitments to Israel and the United States by making unilateral moves. But Abbas denied the accusation, saying it was the Palestinians' right and "not a move against the U.S. or Israel. "
UNITED NATIONS, April 2 (Xinhua) -- The Palestinian representative to the United Nations said here Wednesday the delivery of treaty accession letters Tuesday was made on the heels of Israel's failure to release prisoners on a timeline that is part of efforts to revive the stalled Middle East peace process.
Riyad Mansour, the permanent representative of the Observer State of Palestine, told reporters that he had handed copies of the 13 letters to Susana Malcorra, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon's chef du cabinet. Ban is in Europe. Mansour then discussed the move with Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson. Full story
JERUSALEM, April 2 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Wednesday cancelled a planned trip to Jerusalem and Ramallah as his efforts to extend the deadline for reaching a framework for a peace agreement appears to be crumbling.
When Kerry last July announced that peace talks would restart with the goal of a framework agreement for a final deal to be presented by April, Israel agreed to release a total 104 Palestinian prisoners in four groups. The last group was scheduled to be released on March 29; however Israel has postponed the release citing fear that the Palestinians will abandon the talk once the prisoners are free. Full story