As Israel confirms gov’t to vote on peace talks and terrorists prisoner release;
Palestinian president at Ramallah press conference says Sunday will bring wonderful news for Arab prisoners held by Israelis.
By Elior Levy
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas held a press conference Friday in Ramallah and said that Sunday will see “good news” for the Palestinians locked in Israeli jails, but failed to be more specific. Abbas also confirmed that Tuesday peace negotiations were scheduled to begin in Washington.
Sunday, Ynet has learned, the government is expected to authorize the beginning of peace talks, as part of its weekly meeting, and form a special ministerial committee charged with prisoner release.
A Israeli senior official source told Ynet that the tomorrow the government will vote on an initiative to release prisoners from the period prior to the Oslo Accords and form a ministerial committee to deal with the matter.
The number of Palestinians expected to be released is 104, and according to the source is larger the number previously assumed to be released. The committee, which will be headed by Netanyahu will decided on the identity of the prisoners and their release date.
During the press conference, Abbas seemed optimistic and told reports to follow Israeli news reports on Sunday. According to him, the reports will hold good news regarding the prisoners.
Abbas also confirmed for the first time that Palestinian and Israeli delegations are in fact scheduled to meet in Washington for the first round of peace talks on Tuesday.
He also noted the talks will be held under the auspices of the United States, which will supervise and mediate the talks, with US representatives actually present inside the negotiation rooms.
The Palestinian president also commented on Palestinian opposition to the renewal of peace talks and said that even when the Palestinians petitioned the UN to grant them statehood there were voices of dissent from within the Palestinian camp which quickly silenced when the initiative achieved success.
Abbas also noted the Palestinians have an additional plan should negotiations fail; however, he failed to offer further details, hinting they are connected to UN institutions.
Despite reports that 104 prisoners, including Israeli Arabs, are on the list for release, a senior official told Ynet Friday that the number of the prisoners has yet to be determined.
Furthermore, the source added, a ministerial committee, which is expected to be formed on Sunday, “will be authorized to approve the lists of prisoners, and they will discuss who is to be released, when and at which stage of the negotiations. The final number (of prisoners) is not clear yet, though we know who are the prisoners who were detained before the Oslo Accords.”
As for the issue of Israeli Arabs, the source told Ynet that “Israeli Arabs were released in the past… the preoccupation with the issue of Israeli prisoners has been blown out of proportion.”
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4410209,00.html