Palestinians in Ramallah hold pictures of prisoners 370 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman)
The announcement that Israel has agreed to release Palestinian prisoners as a gesture for the resumption of peace talks is a terrible mistake, both morally and politically, former leader of the settler umbrella organization Dani Dayan said Saturday.
Dayan, who stepped down after five years as head of the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip in January, told Israel Radio that it now must be determined "what else Israel agreed to give up to please Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas].
Dayan called on Likud and Bayit Yehudi MKs to demand that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu disclose the details of the concessions he made in order to restart negotiations.
Commenting on the announcement, Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon on Saturday stated: "We must learn from our past mistakes and not free terrorists with blood on their hands, neither as a gesture nor as a reward."
Addressing the resumption of the peace process and the hotly debated return to the Green Line, Danon said that we must not repeat the "injustice of the disengagement [in Gaza] by returning to the '67 borders."
In a statement released to the press, Danon, who holds the ceremonial title of Likud convention chairman, added that the government "must not uproot thousands of Jews from their homes."
Earlier on Saturday, International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz announced that Israel has agreed to a long-standing Palestinian demand to release Palestinian prisoners in order to resume peace talks, but will not yield on other central issues.
US Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday
that Israel and the Palestinians have laid the groundwork for renewed direct peace talks, some three years after the previous attempt at negotiations fell apart.
"There will be some release of prisoners," Steinitz told Israel Radio. "I don't want to give numbers but there will be heavyweight prisoners who have been in jail for dozens of years," he said. The release would be carried out in phases, he added.
Palestinians have long demanded that Israel free prisoners held since before 1993, when the two sides signed the Oslo Accords - a interim deal intended to lead to an independent state the Palestinians seek in east Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
"In all meetings held by President Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) with minister Kerry and others, the Palestinian demand to release the prisoners topped the agenda," said Abbas's spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdaineh. "Freeing prisoners is a Palestinian priority that should precede any agreement."
There are about 100 pre-Oslo prisoners in Israeli jails, according to the Palestinian Prisoners Club, a Palestinian body that looks after the interests of inmates and their families.Reuters contributed to this report.