Report: Kerry to Delay Release of Palestinian Convicts
United States Secretary of State John Kerry, determined to advance the ongoing negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, intends to pressure the PA by delaying the scheduled release of Palestinian Arab convicts from Israeli jails, Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported. Kerry has also recently made the long-term presence of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in the Jordan Valley a necessary component of any final status agreement. The Palestinians continue to reject such a condition.
Sources inside the Palestinian Authority reported to Ma’ariv that the PA negotiating team had been notified by Kerry’s office that the release of prisoners, the third group from the agreed upon total of 104, would be delayed a month.
According to the sources, Kerry is determined to reach a breakthrough in the ongoing peace talks by no later than January. As such, they said that Kerry will delay the third mass release of convicts and then add them to the fourth and final scheduled release of prisoners who have been incarcerated inside of Israeli prisons since before the signing of the Oslo Accords n 1994.
Senior PA leaders have continually asserted that there is no link between the current talks with Israel and the Israeli agreement to release the prisoners. Kerry’s latest move seems to indicate that Washington thinks otherwise, Ma’ariv said.
In response to being informed of the stalled release, Palestinian Authority officials have objected strongly. According to PA spokesperson Nabil Abu Rodina, there will be no treaty with Israel without the release of the Palestinian convicts. PA Minister of Prisoners Issa Karake stated that the PA rejects Israel’s “games” and that any attempt to delay the release of the prisoners is seen as an attempt by Israel to shirk its obligations.