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Kerry to return to region, as plan to free Pollard, save floundering peace talks emerges
By HERB KEINON
04/01/2014
Emerging deal includes release of Pollard; continuation of talks; release of hundreds of Palestinian prisoners; partial W. Bank settlement freeze.
 
US Secretary of State John Kerry left Israel Tuesday morning as details emerged of a possible deal that would lead to the release of imprisoned Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard by passover and would ensure the continuation of peace talks into 2015.

Kerry will return to the Middle East on Wednesday to meet Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said.

Officials included in the talks said that the emerging deal contains the following elements:

1) Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard will be released before the first Passover seder on Monday April 14.

2) The negotiations will continue into 2015, during which time the Palestinians will commit themselves not to engage in diplomatic warfare against Israel by going to international organizations for recognition.

3) Israel will release the fourth batch of 26 Palestinians convicted of terror acts before the 1993 Oslo Accords. Some Israeli-Arabs will be included in the release, although it is not yet certain how many.

4) Israel will release an additional 400 Palestinian prisoners during the continuing negotiation period. These prisoners will be picked by Israel, will include many minors and women, and will not include those with "blood on their hands."

5) Israel will "exercise restraint" in releasing government tenders for new homes in the West Bank, meaning that it will issue no new government tenders for housing in Judea and Samaria. This policy will not include Jewish neighborhoods in Jerusalem beyond the Green Line. This policy will also exclude public building projects such as roads. Israel has rejected a total settlement freeze.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was informing key players in the Israeli political scene about the plan. It will have to go before the cabinet for approval.

Reuters contributed to this report.


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