Israel rejects proposal to free Palestinian prisoners for extending peace talks
Israel rejected a proposal by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to extend the direct peace talks scheduled to end in April for releasing 400 Palestinian prisoners, a senior Palestinian official said Saturday, Xinhua reported.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Xinhua that Abbas told the United States that if Israel frees 400 prisoners, including women and children, he will accept the extension of the peace talks.
The U.S.-brokered talks have not achieved any tangible results since the negotiations resumed in July last year.
The talks ran into a deadlock this week after Israel refused to free the last group of 26 prisoners, out of the 104 prisoners arrested before the two sides signed Oslo peace accords in 1993. Israel has already released 78 prisoners in three groups of 26 prisoners.
The official said that Abbas insisted that the last group of prisoners is part of an agreement with Israel, adding that the Palestinian president proposed that Israel release another 400 prisoners for extending the talks to the end of this year.
Meanwhile, dozens of Palestinians rallied on Saturday near an Israeli prison in the West Bank, protesting the delay of releasing the last group of prisoners.
A fresh Palestinian poll revealed earlier Saturday showed that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians support the government to head to international agencies for recognition in response to Israel's rejection to free the last group of the prisoners.