U.S.-brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestine are in serious jeopardy as Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas signed a request for Palestine to join 15 U.N. bodies and threatened to pursue more if Israel delayed the released of a fourth group of prisoners.
That said, a senior Palestinian official told Buzzfeed’s Sheera Frenkel that Abbas signed the treaties in response to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cancelling a fourth scheduled prisoner release unless there was “a clear benefit for Israel in return.”
The move by Abbas comes as the U.S. and Israel tried to finalise a deal that would have reportedly secured the release notorious Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in exchange for a quite settlement freeze, an extension of peace talks passed an April 29 deadline and into 2015, and the the release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners (some of whom were convicted of terrorist acts before the 1993 Oslo Accords).
The Palestinians reportedly did not want prisoner releases tied to the extension of peace talks.
“We completely reject any link between Pollard and the release of our prisoners or with the extension of negotiations,” Palestinian spokesperson Jami Shehada said of the proposed deal. As for extending these talks, we must be clear that the release of prisoners is completely unlinked to the negotiations.”
The latest events do not bode well for what is already a daunting process, especially given the demands of Netanyahu and Abbas regarding the prisoner release.
Many experts consider the peace talks — aimed at reaching a two-state solution — as doomed to fail from the start.
Unresolved issues in peace negotiations between the two sides include Israeli settlement building, the division of lands, the fate of Jerusalem (considered the capital by both states), Israeli military concerns in the Jordan Valley, and Israel’s demand that Palestine recognise it as a Jewish state.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry was scheduled to meet with Abbas in Ramallah on Wednesday, but those talks may now be canceled.
Palestinian sources are talking about a crisis in the talks and say the meeting between Kerry and Abbas tomorrow is canceled
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) April 1, 2014
Jeffrey Goldberg of Bloomberg may have been right when he said that the potential Pollard deal was a sign that “peace talks are close to collapsing.”
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