No word yet whether continued PA leaks from talks might hold up next Palestinian prisoner release

Palestinian Authority official say "Abbas demands United States representative be present in talks."

ramallah prisoner release 370 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
ramallah prisoner release 370
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Even amid growing Israeli irritation at Palestinian leaks about negotiations, officials in Jerusalem refused on Monday to respond when asked whether this could jeopardize plans for Israel to release another group of PA prisoners.
As part of the US-brokered July framework that led to direct talks, Israel agreed to release 104 Palestinian security prisoners in four stages over the planned nine months of negotiations.
The first batch of 26 terrorists was released last month, and a second group is due to be released in the coming weeks.
One government official said the framework for the talks stipulated that only the Americans could provide briefings on what was happening in the discussions.
While Israeli officials are sticking closely to those guidelines, not even revealing where or when the talks take place, over the past 10 days there has been a cascade of leaks – apparently from Palestinian sources – appearing in the Arabic press, leading to a formal Israeli protest to US special envoy Martin Indyk before Rosh Hashana.
The official acknowledged that another protest was likely since the initial one had no impact. He refused to spell out what Israel would do if the leaks did not cease, saying “we are not there yet” and that Israel had not issued any ultimatum.
The official said there were three fundamental problems with the leaks. First, they violated a commitment the Palestinians took upon themselves; second, that the leaks demonstrated bad faith; and third, that they made more difficult talks that were already challenging enough as is.
“The leaks undermine the process,” the official said, adding that it did not even matter whether their content was true or not.
Among the leaks were reports that the talks were not going well, that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was offering “only” 90 percent of the West Bank, and that Israel was demanding control of the border crossings with Jordan, as well as early-warning stations in the Jordan Valley.
Meanwhile, the Palestinian Authority on Monday accused Israel of destroying chances for peace by pursuing construction in the settlements and “seizing” more land in the West Bank.
The latest accusation came hours after PA President Mahmoud Abbas met in London with US Secretary of State John Kerry and discussed with him the current talks.
On Monday, Abbas also met with UK Foreign Secretary William Hague and briefed him on the negotiations.
The Palestinians refused to release additional details about Abbas’s meetings with Kerry and Hague, which were attended by Saeb Erekat, head of the Palestinian negotiating team with Israel.
A PA official in Ramallah, however, told reporters that Abbas had warned that Israel’s continued construction in the settlements would lead to the failure of the peace talks.
The official said Abbas reiterated his demand that a US representative attend all the negotiating sessions between the PA and Israel.
A statement issued by the PA Foreign Ministry warned that “Israel’s daily practices of settlement, Judaization and aggression against the Palestinian people, which are carried out in broad daylight, will lead to the failure and destruction of the negotiations.”
The ministry called on Israelis to “raise your voices against occupation and settlements.”
It urged the international community, especially the US Administration, to “act immediately to stop this aggression, which destroys chances for peace and paves the way for plunging the region into violence.”
The ministry called on all human rights and legal organizations to follow the Israeli “violations” in preparation for prosecuting Israelis before international courts.