JERUSALEM: Israel told Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas yesterday it might not carry out a final stage of a Palestinian prisoner release unless he commits to prolonging peace talks beyond an April deadline for a deal. A senior Palestinian official said there would be “big consequences” if the release did not go ahead as planned.
Israel’s chief negotiator, Tzipi Livni, issued her warning just a day after Abbas, at a White House meeting with U S President Barack Obama aimed at keeping the talks alive, voiced hope the prisoners would go free by March 29.
“There was never any automatic commitment to release prisoners unrelated to making progress in negotiations,” Livni said in a speech in southern Israel that could complicate Washington’s efforts to salvage peacemaking.
She was referring to Israel’s agreement, as part of US efforts to revive Palestinian statehood talks frozen for three years, to free 104 inmates jailed for attacks, many of them deadly, against Israelis before a 1993 interim peace deal.