A senior Palestinian Authority (PA) official said Friday that Israel has told the PA it will not go through with the previously-scheduled fourth and final release of terrorists which had been set for Saturday night.
“The Israeli government has informed us through the American mediator that it will not abide with its commitment to release the fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners scheduled for tomorrow, Saturday 29,” said PA official Jibril Rajoub.
Rajoub called the move a “slap in the face of the US administration and its efforts.”
Rajoub reiterated PA threats to take unilateral action toward recognition at the UN next week, in breach of conditions of the peace talks, due to the release not occurring. “Not releasing the prisoners will mark the beginning of the efforts in the international community to challenge the legality of the occupation,” he warned.
The release, part of a series of releases of terror prisoners, intended as a gesture to promote Palestinian participation in stalled peace talks, has been bitterly protested in Israel. Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon has warned that he will resign if the release goes through. So far, Israel has released 78 of the 104 terrorists agreed to at the beginning of the process nine months ago; many of the terrorists were convicted of murdering Israeli citizens, as well as citizens of America and other countries.
PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas has made the terrorist release a condition for continued talks, and has also added other new demands such as a settlement construction freeze. Abbas has already brought the talks to a standstill by expressing his “three no’s”: no to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, no to any compromise on the so-called right of return of millions of descendants of Palestinian refugees to Israel; and no to any agreement ending the conflict once and for all.
Rejection of those possibilities has left observers wondering what there is to discuss with the parties being so far apart and the Palestinians refusing any of the concessions Israel says it requires.
Rajoub has previously stated that “if the talks fail, armed struggle against Israel could be a strategic solution for the Palestinian people.” He has warned that Palestinian terrorist groups “never abandoned the solution of an armed uprising.”