Israel is expected to go ahead and release a third group of convicted
Palestinian terrorists early next week as part of the deal that led to a
resumption of Israel-Palestinian talks, despite the recent uptick in terrorist
Government officials said that there has been no change in the
plans and even Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, from the right flank of Likud
Beytenu, said that commitments entered into needed to be fulfilled.
group of ministers mandated with drawing up the names of the additional 26
prisoners to be released is expected to meet by the end of the
Their decision does not have to go back to the cabinet for
Although Landau said that Israel should perhaps consider
delaying the expected release of another group of Palestinian prisoners, he said
that Jerusalem should not cancel it.
“In principle if we already made the
basic mistake of freeing terrorists, I do not suggest that we get into the area
of not abiding by agreements we took upon ourselves,” Landau said.
you take upon yourself to implement something,” he continued, “implement
it. Agreements have to be implemented.”
Landau said that was
especially true since “the Palestinians are not upholding their part, nor
fulfilling their obligations, and this is true of every round of negotiations
over the last 20 years.”
The sense in Jerusalem is that since the
agreement leading to the talks – including the prisoner releases – were brokered
by the Americans, not abiding by it would cause Israel considerable negative
The upcoming prisoner release, like the two previous
ones, is expected to be accompanied by sharp public criticism.
terms of the framework, Israel was to release in four batches over a period of
nine months 104 terrorists convicted of crimes carried out before the 1993 Oslo
It has already released 52 prisoners in two previous
Officials deny that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has made
commitments not to announce housing tenders beyond the Green Line as was done
the last time the prisoners were released, a move widely interpreted as an
attempt by Netanyahu to reduce criticism from his political Right.
move was roundly condemned by the EU and the US, though it was not a violation
of the agreement that led to the reestablishment of talks.
over the last few days there has been a wave of reports regarding the status of
the negotiations, some of them completely contradictory.
reported that US Secretary of State John Kerry’s security proposals presented to
Israel and the Palestinians as part of ongoing peace talks accept most of
Israel’s positions, including Israeli control of the future Palestinian state’s
border with Jordan.
On two visits earlier this month Kerry presented to
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Netanyahu security “ideas”
based on the work that a team of some 160 US officials, headed by retired US
Marine Corps Gen. John Allen, drew up, defining what it thought would be
necessary for Israel’s security if a Palestinian state were
According to the report, the US is prepared to give Israel full
control of the Jordan border, as well as the ability to spy and collect
intelligence in the West Bank.
Kerry proposed that a massive fence be
built along the length of the Jordan Valley, similar to the West Bank separation
barrier, placing the proposed Palestinian state between the two fences, Army
According to the report, the US security proposal allows
for Israeli drones to fly over the West Bank, collecting intelligence and spying
on terrorist activities.
Jordan border patrols will initially be carried
out by IDF soldiers only, for the first few years, and will eventually be done
in cooperation with Palestinian and Jordanian forces.
While Army Radio
reported that Israel sees the proposals as a basis for negotiations – even
though it calls for the dismantling of the civilian settlements in the Jordan
Valley – both Abbas and the Arab League have effectively rejected the US plan,
stating that there could be not one Israeli soldier in the territory of a future
Netanyahu has for years been adamant in demanding an
Israeli security presence – and not any kind of international force – along the
Jordan River following a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
accounts, however, indicate that the Americans rejected some of Israel’s main
demands: such as the right of hot pursuit after terrorists inside a future
Palestinian state, as well as taking military action if it has information about
a “ticking bomb.”
While there are widespread reports in the Israeli media
that Kerry will present the sides with a framework agreement next month, the
Palestinian news service Ma’an reported earlier this week that this could come
as soon as the end of this year.
According to this report, Abbas, at an
emergency meeting of the Arab League on Saturday in Cairo, said the framework
accords would contain US suggestions for future borders of a Palestinian
The report quoted Muhammad Sbeih, the secretary- general of
Palestinians Affairs for the Arab League, as saying that Abbas made clear at the
meeting that he would bring the proposal to the league, for it to make a joint
Abbas, according to the report, said he would only accept a
proposal that included east Jerusalem “in its entirety” as the capital of a
He will reject the idea of any permanent Israeli
military presence in the Jordan Valley, but would accept international
He will also refuse to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,
and will reject the notion that the new Palestinian state be demilitarized, the