BEIRUT

Middle East

Palestinians reject Israel talks proposal as 'blackmail'

A Palestinian woman reacts after Israeli border police officers sprayed pepper spray during a demonstration marking the Land Day at the Damascus gate in Jerusalem's old city, Sunday, March 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Sebastian Scheiner)

RAMALLAH: The Palestinians have rejected an Israeli proposal to extend the crumbling peace talks beyond April 29, saying it was akin to "blackmail," an official in Ramallah told AFP on Monday.

"Israel is practising a policy of blackmail and linking its agreement to releasing the fourth batch of prisoners with the Palestinians accepting to extend the negotiations," the official said following a late-night meeting in Jerusalem between the two negotiating teams.

His remarks were made as US Secretary of State John Kerry was heading to Israel from Paris in a bid to prevent the collapse of the crisis-hit talks.

US peace efforts took a major blow at the weekend when Israel refused to free a group of 26 veteran Palestinian prisoners under an agreement which brought the sides back to the negotiating table in July 2013.

The Palestinians say that unless the prisoners are freed, they won't even discuss a possible extension of peace talks, but Israel has refused to release the detainees without first securing a Palestinian commitment to continue the talks beyond April 29.

"Israel made a proposal which was refused by the Palestinians," the official told AFP, describing the proposal as "weak".

In exchange for Palestinian agreement to continue the talks, Israel had offered to free the fourth batch of detainees and to releasing another 420 others.

But that number would only involve those serving light sentences for minor offences and would not include sick detainees, nor women and children.

And it would not include any heavyweight political names such as Marwan Barghuti, who masterminded the second Palestinian uprising, and Ahmad Sadat, head of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

The Palestinians are understood to have several conditions for extending the talks with Israel, including the release of more security prisoners and a freeze on Israeli settlement construction which has continued freely over the past eight months of talks.

"The proposal includes a partial settlement freeze in the West Bank but excludes (annexed) east Jerusalem, and would include continued building in areas where tenders have already been published," he said.

He accused Israel of trying to string out the negotiations indefinitely while continuing to build facts on the ground.

"The Israeli proposal aims to continue the negotiations indefinitely, without any results, in parallel with continued settlement building," he charged.

"It's a very difficult situation and the peace process is in real danger because of Israeli policy."

 

Recommended

Advertisement

Comments

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (http://bit.ly/vDisqus)

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

The Palestinians have rejected an Israeli proposal to extend the crumbling peace talks beyond April 29, saying it was akin to "blackmail," an official in Ramallah told AFP on Monday.

The Palestinians say that unless the prisoners are freed, they won't even discuss a possible extension of peace talks, but Israel has refused to release the detainees without first securing a Palestinian commitment to continue the talks beyond April 29 .

The Palestinians are understood to have several conditions for extending the talks with Israel, including the release of more security prisoners and a freeze on Israeli settlement construction which has continued freely over the past eight months of talks.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here