Netanyahu ‘rejects Palestinian, American call’ for early prisoner release
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Netanyahu ‘rejects Palestinian, American call’ for early prisoner release

Prime minister also fends off right-wing pressure to cancel the phased series of releases amid spate of West Bank violence

Mahmoud Abbas celebrates the return of released Palestinian security prisoners in August 2013 (photo credit:  Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Mahmoud Abbas celebrates the return of released Palestinian security prisoners in August 2013 (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected a Palestinian and American request to move up the expected release of Palestinian terrorists serving extended sentences in Israeli prisons, according to Haaretz.

Israel agreed in July to a four-stage release of 104 prisoners serving sentences for acts of terror committed before the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. The agreement was intended as a sign of good faith ahead of the renewed American-brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

The first group of prisoners was released in August, just after talks between the two sides restarted.

The second group of some 25 prisoners was slated to be released on October 29, but the Palestinian Authority asked Israel to release the prisoners in time for the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha next week.

Netanyahu has faced pressure from hawkish ministers to delay or cancel the prisoner releases in the wake of a series of violent incidents in the West Bank in recent weeks, including the killing of two IDF soldiers and the attack that wounded a nine-year-old girl in the settlement of Psagot last Saturday.

Netanyahu has resisted the pressure from the right and plans to release the prisoners on schedule, the prime minister’s representative in the peace talks, attorney Yitzhak Molcho, assured Palestinian and American officials in recent days.

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