Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to release more than 100 Palestinian security prisoners in order to restart peace talks, but Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas partially rejected the offer, Haaretz reported Monday.
Netanyahu offered to release some two dozen prisoners convicted before the Oslo Accords of murdering Israelis, with the remainder to be released in stages by the end of the year; Abbas rejected the offer and demanded all the prisoners be released at once, according to the report.
Netanyahu denied that he had even made the offer in exchange for the meeting.
“I do not intend to make a unilateral gesture, certainly not for a meeting,” Netanyahu said at a press conference in response to the report. “I want to renew negotiations, but Mahmoud Abbas missed the chance.”
However, Channel 2 news also reported on Monday evening that Netanyahu made the prisoner release offer. Channel 2 added, though, that the prime minister had conditioned the offer on the Palestinians agreeing not to seek an upgrade in status for the PA at the United General Assembly, from observer to non-member.
The two leaders have not met since 2010, at the tail-end of a 10-month settlement construction freeze. Abbas has conditioned the resumption of talks on another settlement building moratorium, and has said that he may add the release of security prisoners to the preconditions.
Israel has repeatedly called for talks without any preconditions.
Haaretz reported that Netanyahu was also willing to provide new weapons to PA security forces. However, both the prisoner exchange and arms deal would only take place after the meeting with Abbas, the paper said.The Palestinians, according to the report, want those steps taken in full before any such summit.