Israeli minister threatens to quit govt over prisoner deal

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks hit a snag last month after Israel refused to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.

Israeli minister threatens to quit govt over prisoner deal

World Bulletin / News Desk

Israeli Economy Minister Naftali Bennett has threatened to pull his party out of the coalition government if Israel agreed to release Palestinian prisoners.

"If the deal includes murderers with Israeli citizenship, it would violate Israeli sovereignty," Bennet, the leader of Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, was quoted as saying by The Jerusalem Post.

"Bayit Yehudi would oppose such a deal in the cabinet, and if it passes, the party would leave the government," he warned.

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks hit a snag last month after Israel refused to release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners despite earlier pledges to do so.

In response, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas applied for Palestinian membership in several United Nations agencies and treaties.

The Israeli government, for its part, ordered punitive measures against the Palestinians, including suspending the transfer of tax revenue that Israel collects on behalf of the Palestinians, as agreed in the 1994 Oslo Accords.

But Israeli media on Thursday reported progress in U.S.-sponsored talks with the Palestinians to revive their foundering peace negotiations.

According to Wala Hebrew news site, Israel will release a fourth batch of Palestinian prisoners, including Arab-Israelis, and about 400-450 other Palestinian prisoners and freeze settlement activities in the West Bank.

In return, the Palestinians will agree to extend the April 29 negotiation deadline to the end of the year and the United States will free Jewish-American spy Jonathan Pollard.

U.S.-brokered talks between Israeli and Palestinian negotiators resumed in Washington last summer after a nearly three-year hiatus.

During a January visit to the region, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry proposed a "framework" for an eventual deal that addresses the fundamental issues of borders, security, the fate of Palestinian refugees and the status of Al-Quds (occupied East Jerusalem).

Last Mod: 11 Nisan 2014, 12:34
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