Netanyahu on Palestinian prisoner release: Promises must be kept

PM refrains from making public comments on impending release of Palestinian prisoners, but addresses issue at Likud meeting.

Netanyahu cabinet meeting 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu cabinet meeting 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu refrained Sunday from issuing a public statement about the impending release of Palestinian security prisoners, but told ministers from his Likud party that when it comes to this issue, "promises must be kept." 
Israel agreed to release long-term Palestinian security prisoners at the outset of the latest peace negotiations, as a goodwill gesture to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. The prisoners were to be freed in four stages, the first of which took place in August. The Palestinian Authority is apparently anticipating the second release on Tuesday.
"We have to honor government decisions even if it is difficult and unpleasant, we can't constantly change our stance," Netanyahu told the ministers.
Even so, Netanyahu did not broach the topic while speaking to the press prior to the weekly cabinet meeting, focusing instead, as is his habit, on Iran.
"We want to reach an accord with the Palestinians, primarily to ensure [Israel's] security," he said.
On Iran, the prime minister repeated statements made by Israeli officials over the weekend, among them Strategic Affairs Minister Yuval Steinitz, that the discussion on Tehran's uranium enrichment is meaningless.
"The improvements implemented by Iran in its nuclear program allow it to jump from 3.5% enrichment to 90% enrichment within weeks," Netanyahu said.
The international community must impose harsher sanctions on Tehran and demand that the Islamic Republic halted its nuclear program completely, the prime minister added.
He noted that most world leaders agree with Israel's stance on Iran. "Some say it publicly, some in whispers, some behind closed doors," he said.