Israel agrees to release 104 long-held prisoners ahead of peace talks

July 28, 2013 | By | Reply More

July 29, – The Israeli government has approved a proposal to release Palestinian and Arab prisoners in a bid to jumpstart peace talks. The proposal was greeted by protests from Israelis who view the prisoners as murderers.

hromedia Israel agrees to release 104 long held prisoners ahead of peace talks arab uprising2

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday sought and won cabinet approval for the contentious release of the prisoners which he and others hope will enable negotiations to get past a three-year diplomatic rut.

The approval on was greeted with a positive response from Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat.

“I believe this is a step toward peace and I hope that we can use this opportunity that the U.S. has provided for us to resume negotiations,” he said.

The vote

The Cabinet voted 13-7 with two abstentions in favor of Netanyahu’s controversial proposal. Relatives of those killed in Palestinian attacks, meanwhile, protested against the measure outside Netanyahu’s office (pictured above).

Netanyahu’s office said in a statement that the cabinet approved peace talks with the Palestinians but without elaborating where or when.

The move is part of a US-brokered push to get the two sides back to the negotiation table and envisions the release of the prisoners over a period of several months, in four stages, with each stage linked to the progress made in the negotiations.

Emotions run high

The move has stirred emotions on both sides, because the prisoners in question are viewed as heroes by many Palestinians and criminals by many Israelis. When Netanyahu asked the Cabinet to consider the proposal, he spoke of the difficulty of the decision.

“This is not an easy moment for me, and is not easy for the ministers in the government and is especially difficult for the bereaved families,” Netanyahu said.

“But there are moments where I need to make tough decisions for the good of the country, and this is one of those moments.”

He went on to say that the upcoming talks are important to Israel and that any accord reached in the negotiations would be put to a referendum in the country.

Press journalist HRO media – Khizer Hayat, contributed to this report.

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Category: Arab uprising

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