Israel aims to deport Palestinian veteran prisoners to Gaza, sources say
Israeli negotiators suggested to deport to the Gaza Strip 10 of the veteran prisoners expected to be freed by Israel this month, but the Palestinian side refused to discuss that proposal, a senior official said Thursday.
Acting on instructions from the president, the Palestinian negotiators refused to discuss the proposal of deporting any prisoner to avoid repetition of previous experiences when prisoners were deported to Gaza or to foreign countries, according to the high-level Palestinian source.
At the end of March, Israel refused to release a final batch of Palestinian prisoners the PLO had been expecting to be freed in a gesture to restart peace talks last year.
In response, the PLO applied last week to adhere to 15 international treaties, leading Israel to threaten sanctions against the Palestinian government in the occupied West Bank.
On Thursday, a new meeting between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators attended by US special envoy Martin Indyk took place, the same source told Ma'an.
The parties, added the source, are to discuss the possibility that Israel releases the fourth group of prisoners to reduce tensions between the two sides in the hope of resuming talks.
According to the source, the Palestinian negotiators will continue to separate the release of prisoners and the extension of peace talks beyond the agreed deadline of April 29.
Abbas, meanwhile, says he is ready to extend peace talks based on principles and terms of reference that lead to the establishment of a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Abbas told the London-based Al-Sharq Al-Awsat daily newspaper that his move to join 15 international conventions and treaties embodied “one of the Palestinian people’s rights and Israel has nothing to do with that.”
During a meeting with foreign ministers of the Arab League in Cairo on Wednesday, Abbas reviewed a report in detail about peace talks and the impasse they reached. He also updated the participants on the results of the last tripartite meeting between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators and US mediators.
Peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians were relaunched in July under the auspices of the US after nearly three years of impasse.
Israel's government has announced the construction of thousands of settler housing units and its army has killed 60 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza since the negotiations began.