Israel not to release fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners

Photo: Israel not to release fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners / Israel

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, Xinhua reported.

"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. "

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