Israel has decided to raise the number of prisoners that it will release from 82 to 104 as a condition for the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table Israel Radio reported on Saturday.
Israel increased the number of people to be freed after the Palestinians threatened that they would not return to the opening meeting of talks that is scheduled to take place next week in Washington according to the report that cited a source with knowledge of the negotiations.
Some of the prisoners to be released were Israeli prisoners that in the past Israel had refused to free, according to the source.
The decision to release Israeli prisoners as goodwill gestures to the Palestinians contravenes Israeli policy not to allow the Palestinian Authority to intervene in Israeli-Arab affairs, the report stressed.
Ami Palmor, head of the pardons department of the Justice Ministry told the Knesset Interior and Environment Committee last week, that the 82 prisoners Israel intended to release were all Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza who were sentenced for their crimes before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
It was revealed in the Knesset briefing that all of the prisoners to be released had blood on their hands and were serving life sentences.
Abbas says Israel to make prisoner announcement
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said “happy news” about the Palestinian prisoners would be announced Sunday, Israel Radio reported quoting the Xinhua News Agency.
“You should follow the Israeli media tomorrow, because there will be happy announcements with regard to the prisoners,” Abbas said at a press conference in Ramallah on Saturday.
Abbas confirmed that the peace talks would be officially resumed on Tuesday and that former US ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk was chosen by the White House as the US representative to the talks.
To those Palestinians opposed to the resumption of talks he said, “There were also those who were opposed to the move to seek UN recognition and as at it turned out that opposition was unfounded.” Abbas was referring to the Palestinian Authority’s 2012 decision to seek non-member observer status at the UN.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.
View original Jerusalem Post publication at: http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/Report-Israel-increases-number-of-prisoners-to-be-freed-before-talks-start-321195