Official: PA wants Quartet to push for prisoner release
PLO official Saeb Erekat said Monday that the Palestinian Authority would ask the Mideast Quartet to pressure Israel to implement an agreement with President Mahmoud Abbas to release prisoners from Israeli jails Maan reported
In an agreement reached with Hamas, Israel recently agreed to release over 1,000 prisoners in exchange for Israeli soldier held in Gaza.
President Mahmoud Abbas told Time Magazine on Thursday that former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert promised him in 2008 to release more prisoners in a good will gesture once a captive swap deal with Hamas was reached.
Abbas, who heads the Fatah party and its administration in the West Bank, said he would call on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to honor his predecessor's promise.
Olmert acknowledged to Time that there was an agreement with Abbas to free prisoners in the aftermath of a deal with Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip.
Erekat told Ma'an the PA would ask the Mideast Quartet -- the US, UN, EU and Russia -- to intervene and pressure Netanyahu to commit to Olmert's pledge.
Once Israel's deal with Hamas is completed, over 5,000 Palestinian prisoners will remain in Israeli jails, and Erekat said detainees were the PA's top priority.
The release of prisoners affects "every Palestinian" and does not empower one political party over another, he added.
Analysts have said that by securing such a concession from Israel by kidnapping a soldier, Hamas demonstrated that armed resistance was more fruitful than Abbas' path of negotiations and diplomacy.
Hamas' orchestration of the release of hundreds of prisoners boosted the Islamist movement at a time when it had appeared eclipsed by Abbas' application to join the United Nations -- a bid Hamas opposed but which won strong national support.
Hamas and Fatah signed a reconciliation agreement in May to end years of bitter rivalry, during which the parties formed separate administrations to govern the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The unity deal has yet to be implemented.