Israel to free Palestinian prisoners
Israel have stated their plans to release a number of Palestinian prisoners as part of an agreement to resume peace talks that was made with the US secretary of state, John Kerry.
The agreement occurred after Mr Kerry’s sixth visit to Israel in the past few months. Mr Kerry has announced that talks will begin in Washington “in the next week or so.” He refused to disclose any further information when questioned by reporters in Amman on what agreements had been made between the two sides, saying that the “best way to give these negotiations a chance is to keep them private.”
On announcing the resumption of talks Mr Kerry said that while it is important, it is “still in the process of being formalised” and that there were “complicated” issues which needed to be dealt with.
The Israeli minister responsible for internal relations, Yuval Steinitz, said that the agreement could involve “heavyweight prisoners in jail for decades”. He spoke to Israeli public radio to tell them that the release of the prisoners would happen in gradual stages and that the deal would adhere to the principles set out by prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A spokesman for the President of the Palestinian Authority, Mahmoud Abbas, stated that “progress has made it possible to agree on the principles that allow for the negotiations to resume”.
According to the Israeli Human Rights group, B’Tselem, 4817 Palestinians are currently held in Israeli prisons. The exact number of prisoners to be freed as part of the agreement is as yet unclear.